Two interesting applications have arrived in the Planning and Zoning Department‘s offices–one for a new package store and the other for a new Hawaiian restaurant. They have been put onto the agenda to be considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), with public hearings on both scheduled for Monday, Oct. 23.
New Package Store
Wilton residents Robert and Sharon Hall have applied to open a package goods store at 196 Danbury Rd. under the corporate name of H.A.R.T.S. Inc. In fact, being family-owned by someone in the community is part of the business’ branding–Robert Hall graduated from Wilton High School and the application says that the family has lived in Wilton for 26 of the last 34 years, and has been building up a “network of friends and colleagues through his work experiences (Pepperidge Farm and Bigelow Tea), social life (Rolling Hills Country Club) and children (through school and sports)” over the past six years.
The Wilton location would also be the first of potentially several similar stores that H.A.R.T.S. would open or acquire within Fairfield County over the next 4-5 years, which as stated in the application, would complement the family-owned branding.
The application, which refers to the brick-and-mortar business as HARTS, explains that the store will sell wine, spirits, beer, mixers and ancillary products, and tobacco products, offering “top-notch, great customer service with a contemporary twist.”
The building at 196 Danbury Rd. is prime real estate, with frontage on the northbound side of the road. With 30,000 cars that pass daily, as well as being sandwiched between two, closely-positioned stoplights that slow traffic on the stretch where its situated, HARTS has a visible location. It’s also not far from one of the only two other liquor stores in town–Wilton Wine Shoppe is situated across the street at 203 Danbury Rd.; the application notes that the store would “be the ONLY package store location on the North Bound side of Rte. 7 between Al’s Warehouse on Main Avenue Norwalk until Georgetown.”
The ordinance adopted by the town in 2010 to allow retail stores that sell wine and liquor in Wilton follows the limits set by the CT Liquor Control Commission, which caps the number of package stores in town at five. Three stores opened shortly after that, but one has since closed. If allowed by P&Z, HARTS would bring the number of permitted package stores back to three.
The spot is currently set up for offices, so the application details renovations plans. That includes adding a ramp and double doors at the front of the building, and utilizing a center-located fireplace for a “unique tasting environment.”
The second application being considered is one for a special permit that would allow the applicant, CT Poke Wilton LLC, to convert the former Radio Shack space at 14 Danbury Rd. into a “Pokéworks” restaurant. The space is located in the Gateway Shopping Center on lower Rte. 7.
Gateway is located in a “Design Retail Business” (DRB) zone. Restaurants are a special permitted use within DRB zones. The application asks to amend Gateway’s existing special permit to allow the space in question to change from retail to food service.
There are currently three other food service businesses in the shopping center–Ren Dumpling & Noodle House, Outback Steakhouse and Boston Market.
Pokéworks is a chain of franchised restaurants with 12 current locations in California, Massachusetts, Texas, Virginia, New York City and Canada. According to the Pokéworks website, there are at least 24 other locations planned for expansion. The chain was founded in 2015, to feature the Hawaiian dish called “poke” as its central item. The concept is similar to a ‘make-your-own,’ assembly-line, salad restaurant, where diners can have fresh fish, tofu or chicken combined with sauces, seasonings, vegetables and rice or quinoa in bowls, salads or wraps.