Briarcliff Development Plans Could Shake Up Downtown Dining 

Moonbean Cafe on Sept. 10, 2021. Photo by Robert Brum

One of downtown Briarcliff Manor’s commercial fixtures would be demolished and the one next door remodelled under the owner’s proposed plans, shaking up the restaurant scene along a busy stretch of Pleasantville Road.  

Croton-based Matra Realty Inc. has proposed tearing down the 1,650-square-foot two-story building at 1123 Pleasantville Road that is now home to the first-floor Moonbean Cafe and three second-floor offices. 

In its place would rise a three-story, 6,740-square-foot structure that would house two takeout restaurants on the ground floor, and eight apartments comprising a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units on the second and third floors. 

Matra’s remodeling plan for the 5,400-square-foot, three-story building next door at 1133 Pleasantville Road calls for retaining the restaurant space on the first floor now occupied by The Patio, as well as office space in the basement and second floor. The third floor would be renovated to accommodate two apartments, a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom.  

All tenants at 1133 Pleasantville Road can stay during the renovation except those on the third floor, owner Anthony Matra said in an email. The tenants who rent office space in 1123 Pleasantville Road could relocate to available spaces in 1133 Pleasantville, he said, adding he was hopeful that the Moonbean Cafe would be one the new restaurant spaces in 1123 Pleasantville. 

Matra has received parking variances from Briarcliff’s Zoning Board of Appeals, but still needs site-plan approval from the village Planning Board. He said he expects to go back before the Planning Board in October. 

The proposals are in line with the village’s amended zoning laws that allow residential units over commercial buildings as a way to revitalize the downtown, Matra said. 

A large, open patio between the two buildings would provide space for outdoor dining, and a pair of curb cuts would be eliminated to create more on-street parking, he said. 

‘Definitely emotional for me’ 

Moonbean Cafe owner Abby Wallace said she wasn’t surprised by the building’s proposed tear-down because Matra had told her of his plans awhile back. 

“When you look at the actual building of 1123, it’s so charming and quaint and you’d like to think that they would keep it, but from a financial standpoint I understand why they would want to tear it down and build something bigger,” said Wallace, who has owned Moonbean for 15 years. 

“The downside is I would have to stop business for some time,” she added. “And I guess if you would have mentioned this to me a year and a half ago I would be devastated, but due to the fact that we’ve been going through this pandemic, it’s been a really difficult year. … because I’m completely short staffed and I think that’s a common problem with a lot of businesses, so right now I’m just looking forward to any time off.” 

A lot of her customers are upset “because they’re hearing different things and not all of it is accurate,” Wallace said. 

“It’s definitely emotional,” she said. “I’m tired, but at the same time this has been like another child to me for the past 15 years. This is all I’ve known for 15 years.” 

“My landlord and his wife, they’re good people, and I respect what they want to do, and I understand it,” Wallace said. “So now, let’s wait and see what things are actually going to take place. It’s a long process so I don’t expect it to happen within six months or anything.” 

The Patio on Pleasantville Road in Briarcliff Manor on Sept. 10, 2021. Photo by Robert Brum

The Patio is a popular spot among locals, some of whom have been regulars since it opened some three decades ago.  

Carlos Abzun, who has co-owned The Patio with his brother for the past 16 years, plans to continue running the restaurant. He’s adding a new bar to the dining area. The restaurant closed Sept. 12 for a two-week renovation. 

Parking variance granted 

Matra’s firm, Matra Building Corp., was founded in 1995 as a renovation and remodeling company and later expanded into custom homebuilding, according to its website. 

The developer has been granted variances that would allow him to include fewer parking spaces than required by the village. Matra wants to provide 19 spaces at 1123 Pleasantville Road instead of the required 28. At 1133 Pleasantville Road, it would provide 16 instead of the required 31 spaces. 

“When looked at in a vacuum, it may appear that the requested variances are substantial,” reads the June 18 application filed by the White Plains law firm Zarin & Steinmetz. “However, when you factor into the equation that it is only the lunch time period when there is deficient parking to satisfy demand and couple that with the fact that there is a municipal lot just down the street and additional commercial and street parking in the immediate area, it is respectfully submitted that the requested variances are not substantial.” 

The application also stated that the expansion of the two buildings would “strengthen the commercial core and character of the Central Business District” and the requested variances would not “be a detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood or community.” 

After Building Inspector David Turiano denied the developer a building permit, Matra received the variance requests from the Zoning Board of Appeals in late August. 

 

2 Comments

    1. I think it sounds great with all that extra terrace space, and the additional downtown apartments. And, I do hope The Moonbeam Cafe returns when the project is finished.

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