Say ‘Cheese!’: Belmont’s Newest Store Set to be Your Fromage Stop

Photo: Art’s Specialities, Belmont’s new cheese and produce shop, on Trapelo Road. 

When Artur Nergaryan came to the US from Armenia, he began to long for food he loved from his childhood. While the surrounding communities are well stocked with Armenian fare, he still could not find one product he yearned for: cheese.

So Nergaryan decided the best way to find what he wanted was to do it himself.

“So I made my own [cheese] and then wine, that’s how it started,” he said, soon developing an appreciation for all cheeses.

Next week (or hopefully as soon as this weekend), Nergaryan takes his hobby to the next level with the opening of Art’s Specialities in the former home of Diver Jim’s at 369 Trapelo Rd., across the street from the Studio Cinema. 

The 1,700 sq.-ft. retail space will sell an entire array of products from cheese, olive oil, herbs, charcuteries (prepare meats including bacon, ham, sausage, pâtés and confit) as well as loose seeds, tea and nuts. 

But the highlight will be more than 100 cheeses, most produced in the US and especially from New England. 

“I’ve looked for cheese from local farms as they will have the freshness that people will desire,” said Nergaryan. And, no, he will not be selling his own cheese in his shop. 

The store – open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the weekends – will have two employees and hold cooking and health classes, said Nergaryan. 

Belmont’s Sweet Peach Diner Changes Hands

Dennis Dyer knows diners.

Dyer has owned the New York Diner on Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown Square for the past eight years, helping to approve what’s served and other aspects of the business.

And in the next few days, the Watertown resident will add Belmont’s Sweet Peach Diner to his inventory of investments.

On Monday, Nov. 3, the Belmont Board of Selectmen approved unanimously a change of ownership of the Trapelo Road eatery at its scheduled meeting at the Chenery Middle School.

“I heard it was for sale, I looked at it, [the current owner and I] agreed on the price and that’s basically it,” Dyer told the Belmontonian at an earlier visit to the Selectmen.

“I like it because it’s a new place, all the equipment is new and clean,” he said.

Dyer, who owns commercial and rental property in Watertown and Boston, is purchasing the two-year-old restaurant located at 628 Trapelo Rd. for cash for an undisclosed amount.

Dyer told the selectmen that he enjoys the diner’s current menu and has talked to the staff and has no plans to change either.

Known for its breakfasts and southern-inspired menu, the Sweet Peach, opened by Ellen Carter, was highlighted on “The Phantom Gourmet” in 2013. It replaced Andro’s Diner.


Marsh Street (Half) Closed by Day, Trapelo Under Construction at Night

Construction on Marsh Street will result in about a half mile of the eastbound (towards Belmont Hill School and Belmont Center) lane to be closed from Country Club Lane to Evergreen Way during the work day today, Wednesday, Sept. 17, according to the Belmont Police Department.

Soon after that road work ends, the major repaving of Trapelo Road gets underway after beging delayed for a day.

From 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the next three nights/early mornings, a half-mile stretch of Trapelo Road from Church Street to Flett Road will be under construction.

As with an earlier overnight repaving job in July that effected Trapelo from Lexington and Church streets, the work by contractor Newport Construction is being conducted “under the lights” so to limited the impact on the 30,000 daily commuters that use the road.

Night Moves: Trapelo Road Paving Begins Monday 7 PM

Work on the Trapelo/Belmont Corridor Project goes under the lights next week as the repaving of Trapelo Road from Mill Street to the Belmont Car Wash and the “triangle” encompassing Lexington and Church streets in Waverley Square begins Monday evening, July 28 at 7 p.m.

While the Massachusetts Department of Transportation – the $17 million roadway construction is a state project – and the project contractor were set begin work this week, the Belmont Board of Selectmen Monday, July 21, pushed back the starting date five days to allow residents along the route time to prepare for three days of 12 hours of construction outside their front doors.

According to Tony Barrile, vice president of operations for project contractor Newport Construction of Nashua, NH, the combination of high temperatures, heavy commuter traffic and the narrowness of the roadway would lead to chaotic conditions performing the job during the work day.

Answering questions concerning the MDOT’s request to proceed with night work, Barrile said the new asphalt must cool after being laid forcing traffic on a single lane at certain choke points near the Shaw’s Supermarket on Trapelo Road, impacting rush hour traffic in the morning and afternoon, resulting in lengthy backups and delays.

Switching to a night schedule, “we wouldn’t have to deal with the sheer volume of traffic” that transverse Waverley Square with the added benefit that most of the square’s businesses closed for the day, he said.

Saying that he doesn’t like to work after normal hours, “[i]t’s just so congested there that it makes sense to do it at night,” said Barrile.

While the selectmen were supportive of the time change for the repaving, they were not happy with the DOT’s initial proposal to begin the work on Wednesday, July 23, just two days after their meeting.


“There are quite a few residences in that area that will be only given a day notice before construction starts and I have a concern with that,” said Selectman Mark Paolillo.

While conceding construction noise will impact residencies, Glenn Clancy, Belmont’s director of the Office of Community Development, said “the tradeoff goes back to 30,000 vehicles trying to get through there during a work day coupled with the fact that businesses trying to operate during the day; the night work seems to be the best alternative to get the job done quickly.”

But Paolillo said the idea of beginning a major construction work through the night and the early morning, “right outside your house” will not give residents the opportunity to make other arrangements.

Selectmen Chair Andy Rojas offered up a Monday start “that gives us time to adequately to notify residents of the nature of the work.” Along with a series of mitigation suggestions – such as positioning construction lighting so it is directed onto the street and a contact number for residents to call the contractor during construction – the selectmen voted to approve the night time work request.

The five day delay will not have much of an impact on the project’s schedule, said Barrile.

“We’ll continue to work on other items such as sidewalks and paving,” he said. “We just want to have that piece of roadway nice and smooth for a change.”

Residents Caffeinated Over Possible Starbucks Relocation

When William Chin, chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, asked late in the hearing on the proposed temporary relocation of Starbucks Coffee from its current home in Cushing Square up Trapelo Street to the corner of Belmont Street if anyone wanted to speak in favor of the application, a slight laugh rose from those filling the Board of Selectmen’s Room at Town Hall on Monday, May 19.

“Don’t everyone run [to defend it],” Chin said wryly, to the now chuckles of the approximately 40 residents who came  to show their overwhelming displeasure with the anticipated migration of the popular national coffee shop across from their residential neighborhood even if it is just for a single year.

After nearly 90 minutes in which few resident questions were concretely answered, the Board of Appeals voted to adjourn the meeting until Monday, June 16  so the applicant would be able to answer or explain neighbor’s concerns including parking, deliveries and adding another eatery to the area.

“This is only the start of the process,” said Chin. “It could also end here,” he added.

The move, as development consultant Gerry Pucillo told the board, is necessary so the Cushing Village development – the three building, 186,000 square foot parking, retail and residential complex in the heart of Cushing Square – can begin construction shortly after the relocation which should take place sometime around September.

The undertaking will be a friendly transaction as Cushing Village developer Chris Starr of Smith Legacy Partners controls both sites.

“We looked at several locations and he felt this was the one that suit Starbucks need,” said Pucillo after the meeting.

The transition, which will force two small businesses (a tailors and a jewelry store) to decamp from 6 – 8 Trapelo Rd., requires the issuance of two special permits by the Zoning Board, said Chin. One is simply structural; to straighten out the concave-shaped store front window.

The other will allow for a restaurant that doesn’t require food to be cooked on the premises to take over the space, placing 30 seats into the location, the same amount at the existing store.

Chin said the issuance of a special permit for a restaurant goes to the applicant or their representatives and does not apply to the actual space.

Yet according to the application for the special permit filed at the Office of Community Development, Smith Legacy declared once Starbucks returns to Cushing Village, the “site will then continue to be used for the new use granted under the Special permit.”

While Chin said the board does not have the ability to place a “sunset” clause on the restaurant special permit that would terminate the application, they can place in the permit a clause requiring any business at the location to submit to a periodical “review” to determine if it is a “good neighbor.”

“If not, we can close them down,” said Chin.

The argument against the relocation was capsulized by Oak Avenue homeowner Rickland Powell who said the inclusion of Starbucks into the area would “cause personal and irrefutable harm” to his neighborhood since the temporary Starbucks can only supply on-street parking for both employees and customers.

Pucillo said six employees are in the store during a typical shift.

Powell said there exists “parking issues” from commuters who park on area streets so they can use the popular MBTA bus route and coming from customers of Moozy’s, the popular ice cream which would be located two doors from the temporary Starbucks.

Under the town’s bylaw, “how many [parking] spaces are actually available and can multiple businesses claim the same space within their permit?” asked Powell.

Chin said in a Limited Business 3 zone – also known as a LB-3 – where the temporary space is located, a retail operator must have one space for every 250 square feet of business space. The proposed Starbucks is expected to take up just under 800 square feet.

“So clearly they are not near the zoning requirement,” said Chin, who noted that this situation is common around “strip” stores in Belmont.

Pucillo said parking will be discussed in the coming week when he meets with Community Development Director Glenn Clancy.

Yet Jeanne Mooney of Oak Avenue noted the relocation will occur at the same time as the reconstruction of the Belmont Street/Trapelo Road Corridor at the location. That construction in itself will take out parking along Trapelo and Belmont, making side streets the preferred long-term parking sites.

Other concerns included deliveries at the store, increased trash and the addition of a dumpster and the “rushed nature” of the move.

“The developer should have known well before this that … Starbucks needed to move to a different location,” said Steve Klionsky of Payson Road.

“Now we are being faced with the fall out of that as a fait accompli,” he said.

Under Construction: Cushing Village, Trapelo Corridor a Work Zone

It’s a child’s dream and a driver’s nightmare: construction workers using drills, in trucks and excavators digging up the street and property with police officers directing traffic through narrowed roads and onto detours.

It is spring and that means construction season has arrived to Belmont.

And two large operations are getting underway this season. All along Trapelo Road, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Trapelo/Belmont Corridor Reconstruction is committed to repairing or replacing infrastructure before the expected roadwork begins.

Today, Wednesday, April 10, major roadwork is being conducted adjacent to the Belmont Fire Department Headquarters and in the midst of Waverley Square near the commuter rail bridge. Further work will begin early next week when Church Street and the Waverley Square municipal lot are closed until the end of May and gas pipes will undergo work on Monday.

While Waverley Square is difficult to maneuver, Belmont Car Wash has decided to close to do a bit of repairing of its own.

In Cushing Square, workers are taking sounding readings around the Starbucks Cafe and in the municipal lot while a large excavators is digging in the former site of a dry cleaners as initial work gets underway for the proposed Cushing Village development, the three building, 180,000 sq.-ft. housing, retail and parking complex.

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