April 22, 2014 By Christian Murray
The owner of a new Vernon Boulevard pizzeria said he plans on opening by the end of May.
Tom Blaze, who is opening L’inizio at 47-23 Vernon Boulevard, said he would have opened sooner had he not spent time landscaping his backyard space that he later discovered he was not permitted to use.
Community Board 2 opposed him using his yard, fearing noise, and he was obliged to comply or else the board could have tried to block him from getting a wine and beer license.
Blaze, who had put down paving stones in his yard, was also told by the board to keep his rear doors and windows closed so noise couldn’t escape.
Blaze said he was disappointed with the board since he had 1,300 signatures in support of him using his backyard, including signatures from the property owners who surround him. He said he had also obtained the signatures of most of his surrounding tenants. Those he didn’t have, he said, were because he couldn’t track them down.
However, at a public hearing in Long Island City last month on the use of his backyard, Beth Garrett, who was in attendance with her husband William Garrett, told the board that she had a petition with more than 200 names on it opposed to it. In fact, the majority of the 100 or so who turned up at the hearing were opposed to Vernon Blvd restaurants using their rear yards.
Members of the community board have often said that their decisions are largely based on this type of feedback.
However, several business owners claim that those who oppose back yards are well-organized from years of fighting restaurant owners such as Lounge 47. As a result, there is discussion among some of business owners to form a group to blunt the opposition.
Blaze, who was not aware of any group, said he is now focusing on renovating the interior of his pizzeria, which will feature industrial steel, exposed brick and modern fittings. There will be a 1950s mural hand painted on one of the walls, he said.
“When I open it will be all about pizza,” he said. Then he said he would starting selling panini, cheese platters, cured meats, salads and sandwiches.
Blaze said he will have a designated space for a charcuterie and an area for a mozzarella bar.
Blaze said he will approach the community board in about six months—after he has proven himself to the neighborhood– to see whether it would reconsider allowing him to use the rear yard.
“I want people to come here and see the establishment and to come to their own conclusion as to whether the yard would be a positive thing for the neighborhood,” Blaze said.
“I live down the block and have been in the neighborhood for 49 years,” Blaze said. “I am advocate of the neighborhood and I love this neighborhood, and it hurts me that they are against it when they don’t even know about me or the place.”