Rox Diner in Newtonville and Max and Leo’s in Newton Corner are the two latest Newton restaurants to get more seats, courtesy of the Board of Alderman. By ordinance, the number of seats have to correlate with the number of parking spaces the restaurant has, an antiquated analysis that has little to do with the actual parking supply and demand in the area. Both restaurants got waivers from the parking requirement, as have Panera, the Station Diner, b Street, and other restaurants.
More seats means room for more diners, less waiting. The restaurants make more money. Good for all!
The number of waivers granted is an implicit recognition that the ordinance makes little sense. Unfortunately, the process for getting a waiver is expensive. One attorney told me (while we were eating at Rox Diner) that it costs between $10,000 and 15,000. That means other restaurants that might benefit from more seats aren’t getting waivers. The city ought to have a one-time program where restaurant owners who have the space for more seats can participate in a cheaper, streamlined waiver process. Or, better yet, scrap parking minimums altogether.
On a personal note, the family loves both Rox Diner and Max and Leo’s.