OLD LYME — A new retail food shop slated for the little yellow house at 96 Halls Road received approval from the Zoning Commission on Monday night for a special exception change of use from retail to food service.
Long River Local will feature coffee, prepared foods, sandwiches, baked goods and local farm produce, with a menu designed by local chef Shelley DeProto, who owned the former Red Hen in Old Saybrook and Lupo in Chester.
A soft opening for the shop is expected in late July, said Walker Potts, owner of Long River Farm, one of the produce suppliers for the store.
The 1.83-acre property, owned by Richard and Barbara Halls, was formerly a plant nursery but has sat vacant for nearly a decade.
The model for the shop will be strictly “grab and go,” but seating and tables may be added in the future if approved by the Zoning Commission, said Potts.
The zoning application included 10 parking spaces and there is more space in the back of the property if more are needed in the future, he said.
“That seems to be sufficient based on our traffic and customer projections,” said Potts.
Potts said the shop will be similar to “a very small version of Coffee’s,” which is located on Route 1 near Rogers Lake.
Zoning Commission member Jane Marsh said the uses on the application were up for approval and any uses not mentioned would not be included.
“I want you to be clear that you’re right now saying we’re going to have a counter in there and we’re going to be serving already prepared food and people are leaving with it right there on the spot. They’re not going to stay there and eat it,” Marsh said.
Potts clarified that the space will not be used as a restaurant.
“We have no intention of it being a restaurant, whatsoever, ever, period. We don’t want to be running it as a restaurant at all,” he said.
Marsh said that if the business adds seating and tables then it will also need to add parking spaces.
Potts said he and DeProto were prepared to return to the Zoning Commission in the first few months or a year to apply for a change of use, possibly for three picnic tables.
“We’d like to make some space with picnic tables outside if someone chose to sit down outside after they’ve grabbed their stuff or to have a cup of coffee, but we haven’t settled on any seating arrangements or anything like that — it’s certainly not like a restaurant,” he said.
The market will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
“Look for us on social media for updates,” said Potts.