The outdoor patio at Maggie’s Waterfront Cafe was locked Monday afternoon, despite the mild temperatures and growing post-work crowd.
At least for the time being, the patio will remain silent.
Maggie’s, 9242 N. Delaware Ave., was forced to close it down Monday after a Commonwealth Court judge denied the bar’s request to allow the outdoor dining area to operate pending further legal proceedings.
It’s just another chapter in the battle between Maggie’s and nearby residents who have complained for years that the bar has disturbed their otherwise quiet neighborhood.
In July 2018, the Zoning Board of Adjustment ruled in Maggie’s favor, allowing the bar to open up the patio under certain conditions. The East Torresdale Civic Association appealed the decision and a state judge overturned the ZBA in April.
Owner Kevin Goodchild’s attorneys promptly took the case up another level, to Commonwealth Court, and filed a motion for an emergency stay, which would permit the patio to remain open until the higher court could hear the case.
Following oral arguments on the motion, a Commonwealth Court judge denied Maggie’s request on Aug. 30, setting the stage for Monday, when the Department of Licenses and Inspections closed the patio.
ETCA’s case rests on a 2014 agreement with Goodchild relating to a zoning variance that allowed Maggie’s to expand. It included a proviso that outdoor seating would not be allowed at the property.
Court of Common Pleas Judge Edward C. Wright, who sided with ETCA in April, filed an opinion with the higher court urging it to uphold his decision.
In the document, Wright says that Goodchild failed to show that the patio was necessary to make up for a hardship, which is required for zoning variances. He said the ZBA did not take that factor into account when making its decision.
“The record demonstrates that the alleged ‘hardship’ arising out of the inability of Goodchild to use the patio for outdoor dining was, in fact, self-created,” Wright said in the opinion.
Residents at the Sept. 9 ETCA meeting were preparing to call the 8th Police District if Maggie’s outdoor patio remained open after noon on Monday.
“We’re on the right track,” ETCA president Joe Carson said to neighbors. “It seems that we’ve done everything in due diligence. The courts have in favor of East Torresdale Civic, the community — you represent the community, let’s call it what it is.”
Goodchild, meanwhile, told the Northeast Times that Maggie’s is still hoping to get Wright’s decision overturned in Commonwealth Court. A date has not been set for when the court will consider the full case.
What’s not certain is who will own Maggie’s when that hearing is held. In an interview last week, Goodchild said he believes that he is days away from completing a sale of the bar he founded in 2008.
The plan is for the new owner to introduce themselves at an ETCA meeting in the near future. ••
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at email@example.com.