Rather than vote against requested variances so a popular restaurant can branch out to Clintonville, three of eight Clintonville Area Commission members opted not to weigh in on the new Katalina's proposed for 3479 N. High St. because they are concerned about a reduction in required parking spaces.

The other five members present at the April 5 meeting, however, recommended approval of the requests, including a reduction in parking spaces from the 36 required by city code to the 16 that already exist at the site.

Other variances recommended for approval by the Board of Zoning Adjustment and ultimately City Council in the 5-0 vote with three abstentions include permitting residential uses for the existing house on the parcel, even though it's zoned commercial; no interior landscaping in the parking lot; and no setback for the parking from West Kenworth Road.

The original Katalina's -- known for its pancake balls and sporting a solid four-star rating on Yelp -- is located in a 100-year-old former gas station in Victorian Village. It has only 10 leased spaces, owner Kathleen Day said.

The Clintonville location -- just north of Kroger, the site of a former vintage pen shop -- will occupy 2,800 square feet, with a 400-square-foot seasonal patio.

Jack Price, the longtime owner of Vintage Fountain Pen Sales and Repair, died Aug. 2. The new owner of the site, for which a purchase price currently is not listed on the Franklin County Auditor's Office website, is the Kelley Cos.

Principal Ben Kelley was on hand for the CAC meeting, as were Day, Dave Perry of Dave Perry Co. Inc. and Chris Manella of Bass Studio Architects.

"We enjoy taking old buildings and breathing new life into them," Kelley told commission members.

He added his family-owned firm, which most recently renovated the historic Hotel St. Clair in the King-Lincoln District into apartments, was happy to bring the Katalina's concept to Clintonville.

He said the original restaurant is "consistently the top brunch spot in Columbus."

Judy Minister, the CAC's District 4 representative, said documents filed in connection with the council variance indicated plans to spend $750,000 in turning the former pen store into the second Katalina's.

Kelley said this work will include transforming a warehouse on the back of the property into retail space, creating a new kitchen and bathrooms in the restaurant area and gutting the residence.

District 8 representative Christopher Allwein was the first member of the panel to express reservations related to the parking variance.

"It seems like, knowing how popular the other location is, this one would also be popular," he said. "It seems like 20 spots is significant."

"On paper, it is," said Perry, representing Kelley Cos. on the zoning issue.

He said Clintonville's business corridor is an older one and few businesses along North High Street comply with current parking requirements.

"It's a tough standard to put on older commercial properties in the city," Perry said.

B.J. White, District 9 representative, said she understood the desire to "put cheeks in the seats on the patio," but suggested eliminating outdoor seating may reduce the size of the parking variance.

"We see the patio as a huge amenity for this space," Kelley said.

"It's a very important part of the project," Perry said.

"That's a major parking variance," said Randy Ketcham of District 6, noting past variances granted for the Rusty Bucket and Northstar Cafe have led to complaints from nearby homeowners about parking overflowing onto their streets.

Kelley said Katalina's hours would be 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In spite of his concerns, Allwein joined with Minister, Jason Meek of District 7, Khara Nemitz of District 2 and Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt, who represents District 3, in backing the request.

David Vottero of District 1 joined Ketcham and White in abstaining.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1