The popular burger joint's spacious and inviting new spot on Water Street still requires a round of approval from planning and zoning, coming up in March.
Chomp owner Sam Glynn has a non-conventional but nonetheless effective way for measuring the amount of time it has taken to finally be able to serve one of his perennially award-winning burgers at the restaurant’s attractive new location at 279 Water St.
“My son will be two years old in April,” he said. “I went to a zoning meeting — which means that I'd already been to a planning and a [voluntary historic district committee] meeting — a week before he was born.”
Inside, the new spot is essentially finished. Awash in natural light, a row of handsome wooden bar chairs line a huge bar top with 12 taps that gleam under modern lighting fixtures, a striking mural of a kraken provides an artistic touch to supplement the nautical influences throughout the building’s structure, and there’s enough seating for 60 inside and 20 more outside with a lovely view of the Town Wharf and the flowing Palmer River.
“We’ve worked really, really hard to create a space that is comfortable, familiar and is as nice as any place I think you can go in town right now,” Glynn said.
The outside, however, is where the last hurdle for Chomp’s soon-to-be flagship operation is still stuck in bureaucratic limbo.
Originally, the plan was to include additional parking spaces nearly all the way up to the building’s southern facade. But when Glynn figured out a way to work out a shared parking plan with business neighbors (Wedge and Cafe Water Street), he pivoted towards the creation of a landscaped patio that would enable more seating, be open to various events and, in general, create a more attractive aesthetic for the project as a whole.
“That’s a point of contention with some people,” Glynn said, politely declining to expand on the point.
That patio idea — along with the proposed change of the location of a dumpster (which led to its own prolonged court case brought by restaurant neighbor Tav-Vino, which was finally settled last year) — was subject to the approval of the Planning Board on Monday, which was tabled to March 13 as it was considering the 119 Water St. development.
If that goes through without issue, all that would stand in the way for Glynn to be able to finish the patio and open up the doors to hungry customers is an approval from the Zoning Board on March 15 and a subsequent 20-day waiting period for appeals.
Should all that go to plan, Glynn said that the restaurant should hopefully be able to finish its outdoor components and open some time in mid-May, just in time for patrons to enjoy a warm breeze blowing in from the retractable glass doors that face the river.
Glynn said that the process getting to this point has been the basis of frustrations, but ultimately he still believes in the goal, the opportunity it will provide his employees and the benefit it will serve for the town.
“I’ve had Chomp in Warren for 10 years. I think we've done a lot for the community and we've done a lot, I think, for the town of Warren and getting it to where it is today,” he said. “To be dragged along like this through all the bureaucratic steps without being able to talk to somebody and have a constructive conversation about how we solve a problem, it’s been difficult.”