BURLINGTON – As the Burlington Mall continues to put emphasis on food over department stores, the Planning Board recently approved a special permit that will see Caffè Nero locate its second shop on the premises.

In October 2017, the board approved Caffè Nero’s application to locate on the first floor inside the Mall, below the food court. Last Thursday evening, the planners approved the establishment’s request for a second location on the former Sears Auto Center space, which is in the process of being transformed into a 35,000-square-foot mixed-use building.

With the Simon Property Group (owner of the Mall) in control of the former Sears properties, the first floor of Sears and Sears Auto Center building is going through a significant redevelopment and enhancement program that will reposition those standardized segments of the Mall premises previously operated by Sears and its related automotive service facility into a mixed-use “lifestyle” center providing improved visual and shopping variety to its future patrons. Caffè Nero is part of that transformation, as they will be locating in a section of the building currently being erected where the Sears Auto Center once stood.

The Italian coffee shop is a European style coffee house brand with more than 825 coffee houses worldwide and is established in the United Kingdom (headquarters are in London), Ireland, Poland, Cyprus, Croatia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States (since 2014).

The European style coffee house considers itself a fast-casual restaurant that is modeled after traditional Italian cafes wherein they specialize in high quality coffee and freshly made pastries. Caffè Nero will operate during breakfast, lunch and dinner hours.

Along with traditional espresso-based drinks, such as espresso, cappuccino, latte and macchiato, Caffè Nero also sells Frappé Latte (an iced latte), Fruit Boosters (an iced fruit drink), and Hot Chocolate Milano, an extra sweet and thick hot chocolate drink. Several specialty coffee-based drinks were launched in 2007. These were Caramelatte (a vanilla-flavored latte served with whipped cream and caramel sauce topping), and the White Chocolate Mocha (a twist on the classic caffè mocha). Caffè Nero also has its own line of panini, pasta salads, and soup dishes.

The company buys coffee from traders who have direct relationships with farmers. It works continuously to establish relationships with farmers to offer them what they actually need in their community. The company imports its coffee beans directly from exporters in the coffee producing countries. It establishes strong and direct relationship with the supplying farmers and pays a 'fair' and rewarding price to them. It also works to promote the development of the coffee communities.

The company has a reward scheme for customers. Each time a coffee is purchased, the customer's loyalty card is stamped with the Nero coffee bean logo. Once a card has nine stamps, the bearer is entitled to a free drink of any price (including iced drinks).

Caffè Nero’s newest Mall location will contain 112 total seats (56 inside, 56 seasonal outdoor on a patio). They will occupy roughly 3,000-square-feet of the 1-story 35,000-square-foot building.

A main concern of the planners pertained to the safety of patrons sitting on the patio, so they were happy to hear the patio will be lined with bollards that will face the head-in parking spaces. Planters and a 42-inch high fence will provide some coverage for the patio from the parking lot.

Paver condition

A lot of discussion took place regarding a request of the planners to incorporate paver walkways around the patio area of the Caffè Nero site and any other establishment that is expected to have an outdoor setting at the former Sears Auto Center site.

The planners were fine with the Mall having the authority to make the decision on appropriate paver walkways for the site, given that the styles aren’t too dissimilar to other paver walkways on the property.

Planning Board member Barbara L’Heureux crafted a condition to ensure the paver walkway matter is resolved now and in the future.

“[An applicant] has pavers, and in coordination with the Mall, they choose what the pavers should be, with the understanding that the next time the Mall comes back to us with a proposal for another restaurant in this building, we are going to expect you to choose the same paver, or something that is complimentary,” she declared.

Another objective of the paver walkways is to make sure they are ADA compliant, which they are assured to be, according to Mall representatives.

With this condition as part of the special permit, the planners approved the application by a 6-0 vote. Member Paul Raymond was absent from the meeting.

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