Fire Hits Trapelo Location Known As Home To Diners [Video]

Photo: Belmont Fire fighting a smoky blaze at 628 Trapelo Rd.

A late night fire on Sunday, Oct. 27 left heavily damaged a location known as the home to several diners over the past decade, according to Belmont Fire Department.

The blaze in the basement of Tropical Diner at 628 Trapelo Rd. near the intersection of Mill Street caused “extensive smoke … water and heat damage” to the establishment which opened in March of this year, said Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell at the scene of the fire.

The 6,000 sq.-ft. restaurant and a two-family apartment occupy the site near Waverley Square and adjacent to the Beaver Brook Reservation.

A resident living in the apartment called 911 dispatch at 9:48 p.m. to report smoke coming from the diner’s roof, said Frizzell. Belmont Engines 1 and 3, Ladder 1 and Rescue 1 responded to the site within a few minutes of the initial call where firefighters discovered a fire in the basement of the diner. The blaze was extinguished within an hour.

Frizzell said an investigation has begun to determine how the fire started. Equipment from Watertown and Cambridge assisted at the scene. Frizzell noted that as of 11 p.m. no civilians or firefighters were injured.

The location has been home to diners since the mid-1970s when Andros Diner occupied the spot. Run by the Manetas family, the business was foreclosed by its lender in March 2011 owning the town $75,000 in back taxes.

A year later, in July 2011, Sweet Peach Diner opened, only to close in May 2015. The next occupant was the Phinix Grill that started in November 2015 before the owners turned their attention to operating a food truck and shut its doors late in 2018 followed by the Tropical Diner.

The long standing complaint among potential customers of all the diners has been the lack of parking, with patrons relying on a few off street space along busy Trapelo Road.

Christmas Cappuccinos? Starbucks Looking At Late November Opening at Bradford

Photo: Design for the new Starbucks in the Bradford development. 

Belmont will soon have a third Starbucks Cafe in the Town of Homes as the Zoning Board of Appeals approved unanimously a special permit allowing the Seattle-based coffee mega-chain to run a “fast food” restaurant at The Bradford, the retail/housing/parking development under construction in the heart of Cushing Square.

Plans submitted to the town shows a narrow 2,500 square foot cafe/store located on the left side of the two-story Winslow Building which is being built approximately on the site of the former Starbucks’ location on Trapelo Road. The store will have two entrances, in the front and rear, with 42 interior and 12 seasonal outdoor seats located in the back. The cafe will seek to operate most days from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., employing four to six workers per shift. There will be 22 parking spaces – including two handicap spaces – dedicated to the store located between the Winslow and the main Pomona buildings.

The cafe is the first business to commit to The Bradford – previously known as Cushing Village – which has close to 38,000 square feet dedicated to retail. The project, which includes underground parking and 112 apartments, is being developed by Toll Brothers Apartment Living, which rescued the proposal after the original developer, Smith Legacy Partners, failed in its efforts to secure the necessary funding.

Danial Brennan, a consultant, assisting Starbucks in securing municipal permits in New England, said the current schedule is for construction of the cafe to begin Sept. 15 with an anticipated completion date “hopefully at the end of November.” 

“But [the dates] are always estimates,” said Brennan.

Unlike other fast-casual restaurants and quick stop retail operations that came before the Zoning Board of Appeals – a proposed Dunkin’ Donuts on Pleasant Street comes to mind – there was no resident opposition or comment concerning Starbucks, which operates approximately 28,000 stores around the globe.

Zoning Chair Nicholas Iannuzzi noted the last well-known “fast food” restaurant to come before the board, for a Subway franchise in Belmont Center, required four meetings before it received a “special” to operate.

“God bless America. God bless Starbucks,” he said.

20 Year Old ID’d as Victim Of Deadly Trapelo Road Fire

Photo: House destroyed by fire on Monday.

A 20-year-old man has been identified as the person killed in an early morning fire on Trapelo Road Monday, Jan. 23.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s office said Kevin Rossell was the person found by firefighters on the third floor of the two-family house at 606-608 Trapelo Rd. after a 4 a.m. three-alarm blaze destroyed the structure. 

No one else was hurt in the fire that halted traffic for a short time on the busy roadway running through town. 

BREAKING: Belmont PD Officer Injured In Two Vehicle Incident On Trapelo [VIDEO]

Photo: Scene of the accident.

An on-duty Belmont Police motorcycle officer was taken to Mount Auburn Hospital with undisclosed injuries after he crashed into the side of a late model Subaru near the intersection of Trapelo Road and White Street in Waverley Square just after 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8.

Eyewitnesses told the Belmontonian the unnamed officer was both conscious and talking as he was placed into a Belmont ambulance for the trip to the Cambridge hospital.

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As of 7:30 p.m., the condition of the officer was still unknown.

Afternoon traffic was diverted from Trapelo Road for more than an hour as an accident recreation team viewed the motorcycle – laying on its side in the inbound lane – and the other vehicle which was parked along the outbound side.

A line of MBTA buses stood idling on Trapelo for nearly an hour before the roadway opened to limited traffic. 

“The accident is currently under investigation but it appears that one of our motorcycle units collided with [a] black Subaru on Trapelo Road,” Belmont Police Assistant Chief James MacIsaac told the Belmontonian at the scene. 

MacIsaac said the probe of what happened is still in its early stages.

“We’ll have our crash investigators come out, people with a little more experience and training than your standard officer to understand what happened,” said MacIsaac. 

Follow Up: Cambridge Man Arrested on Drug Charges in Trapelo Haz Mat Incident

Photo: The incident on Trapelo.

A Cambridge resident was arrested on multiple drug charges on Sunday, May 22, after he ran his vehicle into one of the new raised traffic islands on Trapelo Road, resulting in the busy thoroughfare being closed for nearly five hours due to possible hazardous material found in the car.

Jonathan Ottinger, 26, of 172r Harvard St., Cambridge, was charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs, possession of a Class D substance with intent to distribute, three counts of possession of Class E drugs and a marked lane violation. 

The incident continues to be under investigation by Belmont Police. 

A Belmont Police officer on patrol “looked up after hearing Ottinger’s 2003 VW Passet hit the island at 12:12 p.m.  When he arrived at the scene, he found the vehicle’s driver-side tires flat by the collision adjacent to the CVS/Pharmacy at 264 Trapelo Rd. 

After a short investigation, Ottinger was placed in custody. Soon afterwards, Belmont Fire was called to the scene – the incident took place 100 feet from Belmont Fire headquarters – and it was determined that the scene warrented a visit by a regional Haz Mat team. 

Trapelo Road was closed until just after 5 p.m. 

The one Class D drug under Massachusetts law is marijuana. A person convicted of possession of a Class D substance with intent to distribute can be sentenced up to two years in county jail and fined between $500 to $5,000. 

A Class E controlled substance includes lighter doses of prescription drugs that contain Codeine, Morphine and opium. Conviction could see a person sentenced to up to nine months in jail and fined between $250 to $2,500.

Snarl-Up: Paving on Both Concord and Trapelo Will Tie Down Belmont

Photo: Paving on Concord Avenue.

Commuters and residents: you can run, and you can’t hide.

In a rush to beat the weather and cold, two major road projects will be underway simultaneously, leading to likely gridlock around Belmont as drivers attempt to bypass the two sites. 

On the Trapelo/Belmont Corridor project, the final paving of Trapelo Road from Mill Street to Cushing Square, which commenced last week has been moving at a snail’s pace, due to falling temperatures.

To combat the chilly conditions, work along the main thoroughfare will be performed during the day beginning today, Monday, Oct. 26, resulting in possible traffic congestion and snarl-ups as the final layers of asphalt is laid.

The Trapelo Road work will now occur concurrently with scheduled paving on Concord Avenue (eastbound) which also begins today, Monday, Oct. 26 at 6 a.m. 

The work will take place from the US Postal Service Office to Cottage Street, which itself will be under-construction from Concord Avenue to School Street

While Concord Avenue will be open, commuters and residents are being warned that traffic will be limited to one side of the roadway.

In addition, on-street parking will be banned from Goden to Common streets and along Cottage Street.

Officials are hopeful the work can be completed within the next few days. 

Ten Days of Paving On Trapelo Road Begins Monday, Oct. 19

Photo: Road work on Trapelo Road will last one week. 

It’s official; the town administrator’s office has released the schedule for the night time work on Trapelo Road as part of the $17.1 million state-financed Trapelo Road/Belmont Street Reconstruction Project.

Beginning Monday night, Oct. 19, Newport Construction will be paving the main thoroughfare.  Weather permitting, work is expected to be completed by Wednesday, Oct. 28 and will occur between 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The paving will occur from Mill Street to Cushing Square. 

Access to driveways along the work area may be restricted so residents should park on side streets away from Trapelo Road if you need access to your vehicle overnight.

Residents with questions should contact the office of Community Development at 617-993-2665.

Trapelo Road Cheese Shop Seeking Beer/Wine License

Photo: Co-owners Jen Bonislawski and Artur Nergaryan of Art’s Specialities on Trapelo Road.

Artur Nergaryan said his customers – from first-timers to his regulars – keep asking him the same question.

“People will go around and pick up a salami, some cheese and bread and then ask, ‘Where’s your wine?'” said Nergaryan, the co-owner with his wife, Jen Bonislawski, of Art’s Specialities at 369 Trapelo Rd.

That consumer demand has prompted the couple come before the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday, June 22, seeking a license to sell beer and wine from their new speciality food store, located across the street from the Studio Cinema near the corner of Beech Street.

But the application does not mean the couple is seeking to change the tenor of the store’s character or focus.

“[Beer and wine] is not our main business; it will be complementary to what we are already selling,” said Bonislawski. The couple hopes to carve out a small section of the store near the checkout counter to sell a select number of moderately-priced wines and popular craft beers.

“It will provide that extra something that [customers] said they want,” said Nergaryan.

The Watertown couple opened the speciality store three months ago in the former location of Diver’s Jim. The 1,700 sq.-ft. store front sells an large array of regional cheeses, olive oils and balsamic vinegars, herbs, charcuteries (prepare meats including bacon, ham, sausage, pâtés and confit) as well as loose seeds, tea and nuts. It has begun stocking some prepared foods and is the only store in Belmont where you can buy your pickles – five varieties – straight from the barrel.

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But the couple will be coming before a board that has not awarded a retail beer and wine license in years. In the past 18 months, the board has rejected applications by three Trapelo Road stores – each within a few blocks of Art’s – and from Jimmy’s Food Mart at the corner of Belmont and School streets which was denied a license in March. The business has since closed after a fire destroyed the location

The former board that rejected the earlier bids criticized the nature of the businesses – quick-visit variety or convenient stores – which sold lottery tickets and tobacco products, fearing they would quickly evolve into package stores.

But unlike the previous applicants, Bonislawski contends Art’s Specialties – which does not hold a lottery license or sells cigarettes – will remain true to its current business plan.

“Sometimes when a store receives a liquor license, they begin pushing the alcohol. That’s not the case here,” said Bonislawski.

For the working couple – Nergaryan is a bank manager in Belmont and Bonislawski a librarian in Cambridge – Art’s is an opportunity to break into retail trade with what Nergaryan is familiar with (he grew up making cheese after coming to the US from Armenia).

“We love being here, and we’ve received a good reception from other businesses and residents,” she said. “They said how much we’re helping change the neighborhood.”

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.