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Concern raised over proposal to expand restaurant, bar at Linden, Cambridge streets in Allston

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  March 27, 2013 04:25 PM

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A proposal to expand the capacity of a restaurant, bar and lounge and offer live entertainment in a building at the corner of Linden and Cambridge streets in Allston has drawn community concern.

The Russian Benevolent Society is seeking city approval to allow as many as 450 people inside and patio seating for up to 90 people outside an existing food and drink establishment at 20 Linden St.

In additon to the restaurant, the two-story brick building there houses offices, a fitness center, bakery and art studios, according to a copy of a filing the society submitted to the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, asking permission to change the building’s uses and capacity.

The filing is not entirely clear, but suggests that all other uses in the building beside the restaurant and lounge would vacate the property. The filing also does not say what the current capacity is for the building’s restaurant, bar and lounge space, though other city records suggest it can currently allow up to 320 people.

Representatives for the society went before the zoning board Tuesday for a scheduled hearing, but asked that the board defer the hearing several weeks to allow the society to meet with a community group to address concerns raised recently by residents, according to a spokesman for the board.

The zoning board voted unanimously to approve the society’s request to defer the hearing, the spokesman said.

The society’s request has been rescheduled to be heard at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May in room 801 of City Hall. The society’s proposal may require approval from other city boards and departments, officials said.

The zoning board’s decision was first reported by the Universal Hub blog. Other local blogs, including Allston Brighton Newsflash and the Allston Brighton Community Blog, have also written about the society’s proposal.

The society’s restaurant, bar and lounge was originally established as a private club, but is now open to the general public, according to Universal Hub. It can serve alcohol, but only if it is also serving food.

Universal Hub reported the society got city permission in 2011 to open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, instead of only being allowed to open for scheduled functions, according to Universal Hub.

Last February, the society received city permission to open during those hours seven days a week, according to Universal Hub.

A few months later, the society received city permission to expand the restaurant, bar and lounge capacity from 214 to 320 people and to make renovations, city records show.

The building at 20 Linden St. sits on a parcel that measures nearly 1 acre. The property is assessed by the city as being worth about $5.1 million.

The property is owned by Partners Properties, LLC, which bought the site for $4.8 million in 2003, city and state records show.

Partners Properties is owned by Adrian Shapiro, of Newton, who is also a treasurer and secretary for the Russian Benevolent Society, according to state records.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Shapiro referred comment to Alex Matov, who did not immediately respond to voicemails left for him.

Matov is the society’s president, state records show. He also owns, manages and invests in several area businesses, including some that are listed as being based inside 20 Linden St.

Richard D. Vetstein, a Framingham-based lawyer who is representing the society in its request for city approval, also did not respond to messages left for him Wednesday.

In recent months, a website, Facebook page and Twitter account have been created saying that an upscale nightclub, or “supper club” called Garage Lounge is preparing to soon open permanently at 20 Linden St.

The club’s site and social media pages have information, photos and videos posted showing that the club has already hosted some parties dating as far back as this past New Year’s Eve.

But, Garage Lounge is “not opening anytime soon. That’s down the road,” said a person reached by phone Wednesday who has been helping to promote the club on social media, but asked not to be named and declined to comment further.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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