CAP ELIZABETH – The Cape Elizabeth Planning Board has begun to review plans for a new Rudy’s on the Cape, but the biggest concern for some neighbors is not a newly rebuilt restaurant, but a second building of undetermined purpose that could go up on the same site.

Running Tide Road resident Paul Woods bought Rudy’s, a local landmark since 1963, on July 7. The combination diner/convenience store closed for three weeks at the end of September when a previous operating lease ran out. It then reopened Oct. 17, by which time Woods had announced, through landscape architect Pat Carroll, plans to tear town the 50-year-old building and replace it with a 2,680-square-foot, 80-seat restaurant. Carroll later unveiled plans to also put up a second 1,250-square-foot building on the same 1.16-acre space.

“That’s a lot of activity for a small lot,” said abutting landowner Chris Piper, during a Nov. 18 visit to the site by Planning Board members, project designers and interested neighbors.

Piper said he supports redevelopment of the landmark restaurant. He only objects to the second building, which he believes will create problems down the road at his adjacent building.

Morris Kreitz, who lives across Route 77 from the restaurant, raised a similar objection Nov. 15, when the board deemed the project application complete and ready for action. Kreitz called the plan to split off 6,000 square feet of land between the new Rudy’s and David Point Lane, to be reserved for some future, unspecified development, a “pretty vague concept.”

“The idea is that there may be a future use for that lot, although we’re not sure what that might be yet,” Carroll has explained, offering visions of a bank ATM or other “small, nondescript use.”

Carroll said Woods is merely trying to “maximize development use of the property.”

Kreitz urged planners to take up approval of the so-called “second phase” only when a tenant is identified. To date, planners have given little indication how they might approach the property split. All that is certain, according to Town Planner Maureen O’Meara, is that Woods’ proposal will not be subject to subdivision review, because the 2 Davis Point Lane property Piper bought last year was split off from the original Rudy’s lot by former owner Mary Page more than five years ago.

Although planners paced out the boundaries of a possible second building, they spent much of the Nov. 18 visit focusing on design elements of the new building and touring neighboring sites in a search for compatibility.

The plan presented by Carroll and Phil Kaplan, of Portland-based Kaplan Thompson Architects, calls for tearing down Rudy’s and replacing it with a one-and-a-half story modular building, made to look like a “contemporary seaside cottage.”

The building, which could start going up by March, will house an 80-seat restaurant – with 52 seats inside and 28 on a seasonal porch.

Kaplan said the dining floor will feature a mix of booths and tables, as well as an eight-seat bar. The second floor is for office space and storage, he said. During the site walk, Kaplan assured abutters that a second-story balcony is for effect only, and not intended to serve patrons or employees. “It’s just there so that when you come down Route 77 you’ll say, ‘Hey, that’s a nice architectural feature,'” he explained.

Planning Board member Joe Chalot, himself an architect, deemed Kaplan’s design “not quite there yet.” With the primary entrance on the parking lot side, and a large front door that few might ever use, he termed the design “the classic suburban dilemma.”

Meanwhile, Planning Board member Victoria Volent fretted about the color scheme of the new building’s roof and metal siding.

“I’m just concerned that it fit in,” she said.

Carroll said the new building will be somewhat closer to the road than the current diner. The parking lot will have space for 40 cars. Unlike the current wide-open format, the lot will have a single entrance, directly across from Broad Cove Road. Carroll said a sidewalk will run the full length of the property along Route 77.

The Planning Board is expected to continue review of the Rudy’s application at its next meeting, Dec. 20.

During a Thursday site walk to Rudy’s of the Cape, Phil Kaplan,
of Portland-based Kaplan Thompson Architects, points out details on
the plan for the new restaurant that will replace the current
building this spring. (Staff photo by Duke Harrington)
The most recent concept for a new Rudy’s of the Cape, to be
built this spring, prepared by Kaplan Thompson Architects, of
Portland. (Courtesy image)

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