Shelton restaurant asks for more outdoor dining, but instead gets less

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Parking concerns have one restaurant losing some of its outdoor dining space.

Matto Wine Bar, located in the Market Place Plaza at 389 Bridgeport Ave., had extended its outdoor dining space in 2020 — a move done to help maintain business during the height of the pandemic. In the process, the additional outdoor dining space took up one handicapped spot and two other parking spaces.

The restaurant owners recently applied to the Planning and Zoning Commission seeking to make the 462-square-foot extension permanent and relocate the handicapped parking space further down in front of Billionails and Spa.

Matto representatives did not return a call for comment.

But the Planning and Zoning Commission, at its recent meeting, denied the request, which in turn, commissioners stated, forces the restaurant owners to remove the extra patio area. Matto already had a permanent outdoor dining area prior to the pandemic, with the expansion in 2020 just adding more seating.

“The outdoor dining space had been permitted to be expanded when the PZC adopted new outdoor dining regs after the governor signed an executive order regarding outdoor dining,” commission Chair Virginia Harger said, “but when Matto did the expansion, it covered a handicap parking space that was adjacent to the original outdoor dining area.”

Harger said the commission’s denial “means Matto’s outdoor dining area will have to revert to its pre-COVID footprint, which will allow accessibility to the handicap space it had encroached on to.”

“I’m not in favor of taking away parking for additional patio space,” said Commissioner Ruth Parkins.

Commissioner Peter Laskos agreed, saying he was “not in favor of the design.”

Harger said the original approval for the additional outdoor dining space was done at the staff level without commission approval.

Commission consultant Tony Panico said since the expansion necessitated the elimination of required parking, “it should have had commission approval” back in 2020.