Torresdale restaurant cited for code violations

East Torresdale Civic Association President Lew Halas reported that Maggie’s Waterfront Cafe, at 9242 N. Delaware Ave., has been cited for operating an outdoor seating area without a permit.

The city has ordered a popular Torresdale restaurant and nightclub to resolve 14 zoning, construction and fire code violations stemming from at least three site visits by code inspectors this year.

East Torresdale Civic Association President Lew Halas reported during his organization’s public meeting on Aug. 14 that Maggie’s Waterfront Cafe, at 9242 N. Delaware Ave., had been cited for operating an outdoor seating area without a permit. Quoting from an email sent to him by Commissioner David Perri of the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspection, Halas said Maggie’s has been given until Aug. 30 to comply with the zoning code or risk further enforcement action.

Halas later told the Northeast Times that complaints from neighbors about the patio service prompted the civic association to send a letter to Perri in June requesting enforcement. Neighbors maintain the outdoor service creates excessive noise and disturbances. They also say the outdoor service violates a 2014 agreement between the business owner, Kevin Goodchild, and the civic association.

In its letter to Perri, the ETCA wrote that Goodchild had agreed to cease all outdoor service and remove all outdoor tables and chairs in exchange for the community’s non-opposition to the owner’s physical expansion of the venue. The city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment affirmed the agreement that year in granting Goodchild variances to expand the first and second floors of the business.

In an interview Thursday with the Times, Perri quoted a note the zoning board attached to the case file when it granted the variances in 2014.

“Applicant agrees to discontinue food and beverage service outdoors,” Perri said, reading from the city’s zoning file.

According to Perri, an L&I inspector visited Maggie’s on July 24 and found the business had set up outdoor seating without a permit on a patio on the Arendell Avenue side of the business. Previously, neighbors have also complained about seating and tables on the Delaware Avenue side of the business, but the inspector noted no violations there.

According to Perri, L&I has given the business until Aug. 30 to comply with the outdoor service restriction, either by removing the tables and chairs or by applying for a new zoning variance.

“They need to register that expanded use of the facility by obtaining a new use registration permit and going through the zoning process,” Perri said.

The commissioner said it’s unlikely the city would issue such a permit without forcing Maggie’s to make a new appeal to the zoning board.

On Thursday, Goodchild told the Times he only became aware of the July 24 violation when someone who had attended last week’s ETCA meeting told him of Halas’ report. Goodchild said he has not received notice from the city regarding the patio-related violation. Asked if an employee might have seen such a notice, Goodchild doubted it.

“I’m there every day,” he said. “(Employees) would’ve told me about something from L&I.”

Goodchild further said the business has been operating with the understanding that the 2014 agreement applied only to the Delaware Avenue side of the property, not the Arendell Avenue side.

“We took it as they wanted us to stop the service up front, on the front side of both properties. It was two properties at the time,” Goodchild said. “Their main thing at the time was they didn’t want people in the front.”

According to Perri, the outdoor seating issue is one of many unresolved code violations at the business.

Last Thursday, before the Times spoke with Perri, an L&I inspector visited Maggie’s and gained access to a shed on the property. Inside, the inspector allegedly found plumbing and electrical components that had been built without permits. The inspector wrote four new violations to the business.

“They have to legalize that from a building and zoning perspective and need permits,” Perri said.

Goodchild said he had the shed built to specifications he thought were compliant with the code without permits. Only later did he learn regulations are different for residential properties and businesses. The underlying zoning for Maggie’s is residential but it operates legally as a business through prior zoning variances. In zoning parlance, it’s called a nonconforming property, Perri said.

“I’m working with the city to try to rectify the situation,” Goodchild said.

Perri also told the Times there are numerous unsettled fire code violations at Maggie’s involving a defective emergency light, outdated certifications for the alarm and sprinkler systems, missing exit signs, improper storage of compressed gas and missing tags for fire extinguishers.

L&I’s online records show 14 fire code violations were issued following a January inspection. Nine of those are considered open. Goodchild said a city inspector told him three weeks ago the fire code violations had been resolved. ••