Takeout now allowed at Baxter Estates cafe

Dolphin Bookshop owner Patricia Vunk has won a Dolphin Bookshop owner Patricia Vunk has won a petition to the Village of Baxter Estates to allow takeout at the small cafe opened in April. (June 27, 2012) Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

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Call off the Muffin Police.

Patrons at the Dolphin Cafe in Baxter Estates are now free to take their coffee and pastries to go, after the village's Board of Zoning Appeals lifted a prohibition on takeout at the cafe.

Dolphin Bookshop owner Patricia Vunk, who also owns the cafe inside the bookstore's Main Street location, said the restriction had been a difficult one to follow.

"We didn't understand how we were supposed to function. What if somebody eats only half of their food?" Vunk said before the Wednesday meeting. "I've never been in a restaurant where I wasn't allowed to take out what we didn't finish."

More than a dozen supporters of the cafe packed the meeting, asking the members of the board to lift the restriction.

Mark Gamell, 56, of Port Washington, told the board that on his first visit to the cafe he enjoyed the coffee so much that he asked for another cup to go, and was incredulous when he was told he couldn't have it.

"Let us buy what we like, drink what we like, and let us take it around this beautiful area," Gamell said to the board.

Village clerk Yvonne Whitcomb said the zoning board voted unanimously to lift the restriction, as well as a restriction on advance phone orders, effective immediately.

Vunk said when she originally applied to the village for permission to open the cafe last year, she wasn't aware of the special restriction on takeout that the board had attached to its approval.

But a few days after the cafe's grand opening on April 1, she said village officials contacted her and told her that they had received complaints about customers emerging from her store, food and beverages in hand, in violation of the variance.

Vunk then applied to the village to remove the restriction, hiring a lawyer to help her through the process. In the meanwhile, she had put up a "No Takeout" sign next to the counter at the cafe -- a sign that Vunk now plans to remove.

"It feels like we sort of lost three months, but we're ready to move forward," said Vunk, who added that she was grateful for the board's decision.

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