The Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority approved a new design Thursday for a sidewalk enclosure at Roasted Cafe & Lounge, which was ordered last week by a city court judge to take down an unpermitted wooden wall.
The existing wall has been an ongoing dispute for months between the Second Street restaurant and the authority and city officials. The judge also cited the restaurant for building the wall without the required approval from the authority.
The new design calls for an iron, single-rail fence with hanging planters, which complies with guidelines adopted by the authority during the dispute to promote uniformity and transparency through the enclosure.
“I think they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do at this time,” said authority Chairman Bob Lewis.
The authority asked Roasted owner Nick Rizkalla in March to remove the waist-high wooden wall he had built around the restaurant’s sidewalk cafe area without getting the authority’s required approval. After he refused, the authority voted to deny renewal of the restaurant’s permit for a sidewalk cafe.
Wrangling over the wall continued until the authority eventually voted to separate the two issues -- the wall and the permit -- approving the new permit and turning the wall issue over to the city for enforcement. Mayor Robert Reichert wrote the business a letter giving them 10 days to remove the wall or have it taken down.
Roasted and landlord Betty Shiermeister then filed a lawsuit in Bibb Superior Court seeking an injunction to keep the city from tearing down the wall. They dropped the suit because the citation was pending in city court.
Efforts to reach Rizkalla for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.
Lewis said the authority’s intent was never to harm Roasted’s business.
“I think it’s great that it’s finally been brought to a positive conclusion,” he said. “I think their new design will be very attractive and beneficial to their business.”
The authority also has asked the Bearfoot Tavern to remove the wooden wall around its sidewalk café. That wall design, however, was approved by authority members prior to the adoption of the new guidelines, and the authority has acknowledged that it might have to share the cost of the wall’s removal.
To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.