By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, March 20, 2012

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON — The vacated former Me & Ollie’s building downtown will soon be home to a new Flatbread Co. pizza restaurant.

The town’s Zoning Board voted unanimously Thursday, March 15 to approve a variance request regarding the number of required parking spaces for the proposed restaurant at 61 High St.

The restaurant, which has headquarters in Hampton, has multiple locations, including one on Congress Street in Portsmouth.

The company needed the variance due to the requirement that restaurants have one parking space for every three seats. The restaurant plans to have 90 interior seats and 30 additional seats outside for seasonal dining.

The proposed plan shows only nine parking spaces at the site, where Me & Ollie’s had 12.

Zoning Board member Tom McGuirk said he had no problem with request, noting the majority of restaurants in the downtown area do not meet the requirement for parking, including the 401 Tavern and the Old Salt.

The town-owned municipal parking lot is in the area, McGuirk said, and the new establishment could take advantage of that location for overflow parking.

“I don’t think what they are asking for is unreasonable,” McGuirk said.

Board members said the addition of the popular restaurant will benefit the downtown area.

Flatbread Co. is owned by Jay Gould and John Meehan.

The company opened its first restaurant in 1998 in Amesbury, Mass., featuring all natural, organic pizzas cooked in a wood-fired clay oven.

The Zoning Board also voted 4-1 to grant a variance for Pearl’s Hamburgers, owned by Jen Blankenship and Heide Conlin. The owners intend to use the vacant lot at 421 Lafayette Road for a seasonal restaurant that offers takeout service.

Their plan calls for a 1963 Airstream Trailer to be designed to attach to a permanent foundation whereby the tires will be removed and all utilities will be installed to make it a permanent structure.

According to the restaurant’s Web site, “Pearl’s is a seasonal walk up hamburger joint that offers all the great take out food along with ice cream and desserts made from Pearl herself, reminiscent of the classic 1950s American hamburger joints.”