Expansion allows the long-tenured Collingswood eatery to support more private parties and special events.
By Matt Skoufalos | January 24, 2024
Long-tenured Collingswood eatery Il Fiore will soon redevelop its operations to accommodate additional guests in an upstairs party room, its second expansion in less than a decade.
In 2017, owner Landi Daku worked with the borough to acquire the vacant property at 691 Haddon Avenue, which adjoined his original restaurant space at 693 Haddon Avenue.
That deal enabled Daku to incorporate the extra square-footage into an additional dining and reception area for Il Fiore customers, who’d spent some nine years lined up outside the 60-seat eatery on peak weekend hours for want of space to welcome them inside.
On Monday, Daku appeared before the borough planning board to present designs for an extensive remodeling job that would add a second-floor dining room at 691 Haddon Avenue with third-floor apartments above.
Representing Daku on the application was attorney Don Cofsky of the Haddonfield firm of Cofksy and Zeidman, and architect Thomas Wiedenman of Havertown, Pennsylvania.
“What we’re really looking to do is bring what’s on the second floor up to the third, and make it read as one building,” Wiedenman said.
To achieve that effect, Wiedenman said, front-facing architectural improvements would mass the cornice lines into a style that “will fit in with the rest of the block.”
The rear of the buildings would get fresh stucco and new windows, and several rear entrances would be consolidated down into fewer.
Inside, the second-floor apartments at 691 Haddon would be converted into a 65-seat party room, and the third floor would be converted into four one-bedroom apartments.
In order to achieve the design goals, the project required approval of variances for change of use, building coverage, parking, floor-area ratio, and rear-yard setback.
Cofksy argued that a benefit of the project would be its merger of the lots in question, one of which (691 Haddon) is “already undersized, and doesn’t meet the zoning standard.”
Daku testified that the increased square footage wouldn’t create any additional parking burden in the borough downtown, since his employees park offsite, and the private parties wouldn’t overlap greatly with his regular meal service.
Mark Namm, his neighbor at 1 East Collings, was encouraged by the notion that the project would address the rear of the property, which faces his, and “is horrendous as it sits.”
Overall, Daku said, the expansion would help his business, and by extension, hopefully retain more visitors and shoppers in the Collingswood business district.
“Here, the demand for private parties is very high on weekends,” he said. “I’m booked to July. If these parties don’t come to me, they’re going to go someplace else; maybe to another town.
“The restaurant is busiest on weekends; that’s when people want to have parties,” Daku said. “Adding a party room upstairs is much more comfortable; it’s a bigger space, so I don’t have to miss regular business.”
Daku also testified that the additional capacity would be flexible, and its use limited to the capacity in his first-floor kitchen, which will not be expanding as part of the plan.
The board approved the project in its entirety.
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