BURLINGTON – The Friendly Toast, a contemporary eatery focused on serving breakfast, recently received unanimous approval from the Planning Board to locate in the vacant Bobby’s Burger Palace space in the Burlington Mall.

Doing business as Toasted Brother Burlington, LLC, and in conjunction with the Simon Property Group (owner of the Mall), The Friendly Toast formally filed an application for a special permit. As recently as a month ago, Davio’s, an Italian steakhouse restaurant, was the tenant who was ready to make a pitch to take over the space, but the proposal was not able to proceed due to certain lease obligations. Bobby’s Burger Palace closed before the first of the year.

The occupancy will be The Friendly Toast’s fourth spot in New England, with three other sites in Boston’s Back Bay, Cambridge, and its first location in Portsmouth, NH. The space is zoned as a General Business (BG) District.

The Friendly Toast is a family friendly restaurant providing freshly made meals to its customers in a uniquely designed space offering an enjoyable and welcoming atmosphere. They provide breakfast, lunch and dinner service with seating for 120 patrons (interior seating).

The new occupant is intending to renovate and reoccupy the former Bobby’s Burger Palace restaurant, resulting in a “slight increase” in total seats from 72 to 120.

Local attorney Mark Vaughan of Riemer & Braunstein, representing Toasted Brothers Burlington, LLC, affirmed the outside of the site will essentially remain the same while there will be “significant improvements and upgrades” inside.

“While this proposal will entail an expansion of seating within the tenant space, there will be an overall reduction in seating at the Mall due to the recent closure of Rainforest Café,” stated Vaughan, noting the Rainforest Café was comprised of 344 seats.

The Friendly Toast is expected to obtain the liquor license from Rainforest Café through a formal transfer process, which will take place with the Board of Selectmen.

Although the eatery will have a liquor license, Co-Owner of The Friendly Toast Scott Pulver informed the planners that beverages like “Bloody Mary’s” and “Mimosas” make up a bulk of the alcohol component of the business, acknowledging The Friendly Toast is “mostly food oriented.” The business does have a small bar component with eight seats. The hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Pulver added, “We have funky, fun food and it is not just a breakfast place, but an all-day eating place.” He remarked that 1/3 of the sales come from breakfast, 1/3 from lunch, and the last 1/3 from dinner.

Planning Director Kristin Kassner called The Friendly Toast a “good addition” to the restaurant scene, pointing out that this type of establishment addresses some of the needs raised at the Master Plan Steering Committee meetings, including residents’ desire to see more affordable places to sit down with the family and eat breakfast.

The planners were very much in favor of the business moving into the Mall, but several members inquired why The Friendly Toast needs the Rainforest Café’s liquor license when the Mall has three such licenses waiting in reserve from the state for tenants in the future.

Vaughan explained, “Restaurants have become a critical component of the Mall. In many respects, they have become anchors for it and are driving a lot of foot-traffic compared to the traditional department stores.”

The Mall sounds like it needs as many liquor licenses as it can get. Vaughan did divulge that the planners can expect to see more restaurant tenants seeking to locate in the Mall appearing before them in the near future.

Appealing to all the board’s demands, the planners unanimously approved the special permit application.

The Friendly Toast is hoping to open in October.

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