‘Fat Cats’ approved

Published 10:32 pm Thursday, May 22, 2014

City Council on Wednesday gave its unanimous approval for a conditional use permit for a new restaurant downtown that will feature live entertainment, particularly comedy, as part of its draw.

Michael Auletta, a former traveling comedian who has settled in the Hampton Roads area, hopes to get “Fat Cats” open as soon as possible at 154 W. Washington St., in the spot formerly occupied by restaurants A.J. Gator’s and Bullie’s.

“He felt like there was an opportunity here,” Auletta’s attorney, Whitney Saunders, said in the meeting. Auletta had searched opportunities in other parts of Hampton Roads before deciding to put his business in Suffolk, Saunders said.

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“This is simply a part of what’s being developed in downtown Suffolk now, an urban center that has other options available,” Saunders said. “Those options should include live entertainment, but don’t now.”

Planning commissioners, before approving the request unanimously at their meeting last month, had expressed concern about the level of clientele the venue will attract. But Saunders allayed any similar concerns City Council members might have had on Wednesday.

“This is supposed to be a restaurant or entertainment venue that you would like to go to,” Saunders told the council members.

The conditional use permit requires the business to have security cameras.

The restaurant will be open from 4 p.m. to midnight, with live music in the earlier part of the evening with comedy in the later hours. It will serve tapas as well as full-size entrees.

Also Wednesday, City Council members unanimously approved an in-home daycare serving six to 12 children at 300 Princess Arch.

Carl and Melvina Williams operate the business in their home, which currently is allowed to have up to five children. Having between six and 12 children, however, requires a conditional use permit.

Several neighbors and patrons of the daycare spoke during the public hearing, expressing support for the Williamses.

“To me, this daycare is a help to the community,” Deborah Carter said. “She is like a mother to all of the kids.”

A representative of the neighborhood’s homeowners’ association spoke in opposition to the permit, noting the association’s bylaws don’t permit businesses in the community.

City Council noted its decision is not the appropriate venue to enforce association bylaws, but members did express concern about an in-ground pool in the Williamses’ backyard.

“I have a problem with that pool,” Councilman Lue Ward said.

However, the Williamses noted they have installed a fence around the pool and will have extra staff members when they bring on extra students. They have an alarm on the back door that leads to the pool and, at Councilman Charles Parr’s suggestion, said they would be willing to buy a floating alarm.

City planning director Scott Mills said the Department of Social Services also regulates in-home daycares and would be the appropriate body to address the pool.