The growing popularity of Taphouse 15 apparently prompted its owners to seek approval from the township’s Planning Board to revise the restaurant’s current structure. Taphouse, situated at the intersection of Route 15 and Berkshire Valley Road, is on the location of the former New Orleans Steak House.

At this month’s board meeting, The Jefferson Chronicle heard Taphouse owners Tom Apostolopoulos and Bill Stathopoulos present plans to expand the restaurant by adding a 20×30-foot bump-out to the building’s south side. The 638-square-foot area would be surrounded by glass and have a folding glass wall opening to the outside. The area of existing seating would be removed. The expansion is planned to create a better circulation flow of patrons as the current seating plan is crowded, according to the owners.

Apostolopoulos and architect Patrick Lesbirel assured board members that the current capacity of 178 patrons will remain the same. There are no plans for additional seating, which would require a revision in the septic system.

Engineer Thomas Graham of Dykstra Walker Design Group explained that the dumpster and ice box would be moved by eliminating about six staff parking spots. A proposed 10×18-foot enclosure for the dumpster is smaller than the current area, which Apostolopoulos testified is larger than needed.

Board member Jay Dunham questioned whether the state Department of Transportation (DOT) was queried on future projects that may impact Taphouse 15. Graham stated that an inquiry was submitted approximately four months ago and the DOT responded that there are no planned projects at this time. Graham said that a “letter of no interest” will be supplied by the DOT.

Dunham also inquired about the loss of parking spaces. Graham explained that only 68 spaces are required per the township’s ordinance. Currently there are 88 available parking spaces and the new plan eliminates six to seven of them, leaving a minimum of 81 spaces, which is above the township’s requirement.

The plan calls for new striping of parking lines, and Apostolopoulos noted that valet parking is also used at peak times to facilitate parking.

The motion for approval was unanimous and the project will move forward with detailed plans to be submitted.

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