We spoke today with Scott Whittall, co-owner of Buli Cafe on Cedar Springs. A while back we reported that Whittall planned to knock down the wall between the coffee shop and the old Zen Salon, and open a piano bar called Shakers. But he says those plans have hit a major snag, and Buli remains open as a coffee shop.
Whittall said the the biggest obstacle to the expansion is city parking requirements. Buli is currently “grandfathered” with a parking requirement of one space for every 200 square feet. However, if they knock down the wall and open a restaurant/bar, the requirement will become one parking space for every 100 square feet.
“This is a hurdle I don’t think we can get over, the parking thing,” Whittall said. “That means we would need 32 spaces, which is almost impossible.” Buli currently has only eight spaces.
Whittall said he hasn’t given up entirely on the plan, but he expressed frustration with the city, which would also require him to combine electric meters at a cost of $20,000 to $30,000.
“I’m trying to figure out how this benefits the city,” he said. “These things are just silly.”
Whittall said if he can’t figure out a way to get around the requirements, he may open a restaurant/bar that’s limited to the space currently occupied by Buli. But he said everything is still up in the air.
“I’m not going to say it’s not going to happen yet, because I have to always hold that glimmer of hope,” Whittall said of the expansion. “If it can be done, we’ll do it.”