Halifax's Athens restaurant surprised by rumours of McDonald's takeover
Halifax sent letter showing a McDonald's in the spot, but owner says he's not selling Quinpool Road property
McDonald's may want to turn 6273 Quinpool Rd. in Halifax into a quick-fry burger joint, but the owner of the property, Evangelos Panopalis of Athens Family Restaurant, says it will remain a house of souvlaki.
"There is no offer, no agreement, no sale (of either the business or the property)," Panopalis wrote in an email to CBC News.
Recently, neighbours received notice from the city that someone had applied for a variance to a Quinpool Road property. Attached to the letter was a site plan that included a McDonald's restaurant, which led to speculation online that McDonald's was set to take over the property.
Panopalis's words came as a surprise to the restaurant's neighbours, who received a letter from Halifax's principal planner Andrew Faulkner earlier this week.
The letter, sent to people living within 100 metres of Athens, announced a variance to the "maximum side yard setback" of the property.
"This will advise you that as the development officer for the Halifax Regional Municipality I have approved a request for a variance from the requirements of the Regional Centre Land Use bylaw," Faulkner wrote.
The variance would allow for a wider driveway than what is allowed under the city's centre plan, one bigger than what currently exists at the site.
Attached to the letter was an architectural plan for a McDonald's restaurant, including a logo and a two-lane driveway and parking lots stretching back to Yale Street, which is a one-block dead-end residential street immediately behind Athens.
The plan depicts a tractor-trailer in the parking lot backing up to unload at the restaurant's "secondary entrance."
McDonald's Canada did not respond to requests for comment. The chain has a restaurant on the opposite side of Quinpool, just a short walk from Athens.
A Halifax Regional Municipality spokesperson would not comment on the variance because the staff members responsible could not be reached on Wednesday or Thursday.
George Clark owns a home on Yale Street two doors down from Athens.
He said his neighbours don't want a McDonald's in their backyards.
"The rodent problem that comes with it, the seagulls, the constant smell of cooking ... Oh my God, who knows when that would start in the run of the day?" Clark said.
Clark said he and neighbours he's spoken with on the street intend to appeal the variance by the Jan. 7 deadline in the HRM letter.
A unique aspect of the Athens property is its connection between Quinpool Road and Yale Street to the north.
Clark said drivers already use the parking lot as a way to escape traffic on Quinpool. He said he fears "constant traffic in and out and up and down Yale Street" if a McDonald's arrives.
Moussaka as usual
Meanwhile, the owner of Athens said he's not going anywhere.
"The Athens is still here and doing what we've been doing for nearly four decades," Panopalis said.
"We get approached several times a year from developers and other groups because our property has value. As part of the centre plan, more and more groups are taking an interest," he said.
But Panopalis said a possible McDonald's takeover came as a surprise.
"I too saw this plan for the first time on social media last night, along with everyone else," he said.