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Bonefish Grill sues Rockville Centre over restaurant restrictions

Rockville Centre Village Hall is more than a

Rockville Centre Village Hall is more than a century old and once served as the high school. It is located at 1 College Place. (Oct. 11, 2011) Credit: T.C. McCarthy

A new seafood restaurant in Rockville Centre has sued the village, saying officials wrongfully limited its trade after parking space complaints from nearby businesses grew.

Bonefish Grill, which opened June 16, is asking the state Supreme Court in Mineola to reverse conditions the village board of zoning appeals imposed after it had razed the previous building -- a movie theater -- at 340 Sunrise Hwy. and built its restaurant.

The conditions included that customers' cars must be valet parked, employees must obtain village employee parking permits to be used only in employee parking spots, and lunch could not be served on weekdays.

"A restaurant that is not allowed to serve lunch is not a restaurant," Bonefish said in the lawsuit filed on June 18.

Attorneys for the 5,407-square-foot Bonefish Grill Rockville Centre noted that "local restaurants spoke against this restaurant [Bonefish] opening" and the village "wrongfully" added conditions to the zoning variance after the restaurant complied with earlier conditions.

Village spokeswoman Julie Scully said Rockville Centre officials "are disappointed with Bonefish's categorization that we changed the rules after the deal was made, when in fact, they have been trying to avoid compliance with the very conditions they offered at the beginning of the negotiations with the village."

She would not comment further, citing the litigation.

The restaurant continues to operate while the restrictions are being challenged. Bonefish, a Tampa, Florida-based restaurant chain, reports operating 198 restaurants in 34 states.

Company spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts said Bonefish "spent over $3 million to demolish an old theater and build a new restaurant. It's unfair to change the rules a year after we invested resources, time and money into the location."

Motions on the "Article 78" proceeding, which can be used to overturn a municipal decision, are to be submitted July 14 before Supreme Court Justice Steven M. Jaeger.

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