Nick Pencis, owner of Stanley's Famous Pit Bar-B-Que, 525 S. Beckham Ave., said he and his wife Jennifer have plans to develop a "food park" on a portion of land at the corner of East Houston Street and Oakland Avenue if the city's planning and zoning board gives its approval for the land to be platted so a building permit can be issued.
The board meets again on May 7 to vote on the recommendation, which will then go to city council for its approval, probably in May. The agenda item regarding Stanley's was one of about 10 discussion items at the city's Planning and Zoning board workshop on Tuesday. The board did not vote on any of the agenda's items, but did discuss them at the workshop.
Stanley's has been open for about 60 years and was started by J.D. Stanley, who ran it until 2000. Pencis assumed leadership at the restaurant six years ago.
Before any new venture can be started, the planning and zoning board must allow the lot be platted, or mapped, to show its features, for Pencis to obtain a building permit. He said the land, which he and his wife bought a year ago, was an older piece of property that had never been platted.
Pencis said Tuesday he hopes to include different food-serving units or food pods, which would include more than one food concept.
"It will depend on the chefs who operate the individual units — it could include Indian food, Korean street tacos or cupcakes," he said.
Pencis said the city had reclassified the area where his restaurant is, along with his land on East Houston Street as part of the Midtown area in September, and he wanted to contribute to that concept with more restaurants and entertainment venues.
"There are so many people who work here and who visit people in the hospital," he said.
Pencis plans to have a small green belt on the property too to create a peaceful place where visitors can enjoy the sunshine, relax and enjoy a quiet bite, he said.
The city's Midtown Area Development Plan identifies land use opportunities to support medical and college campuses and provide retail, restaurant and entertainment options while protecting established neighborhoods. The initial goals of the Midtown plan are to improve signage, land use, aesthetics and connectivity within the 1,062-acre target area, bordered by Front Street, Broadway Avenue, Fifth Street and East Loop 323.