Once controversial, Eli's patio opens with little fuss

Eli’s patio is finally open.

After more than a year of asking city officials for permission to lease a portion of city property next to the eatery at 21 Daniel Street, Eli’s got approval last November from the Board of Aldermen.

Last week people were sitting at the outside tables, chatting, eating and enjoying the mild temperature.

The lease Eli’s signed with the city allowed for creation of a 10-foot by 51-foot concrete patio. It is non-smoking and live music is not permitted.

The lease is not assignable to another owner, and should owner Richard Ciardiello sell the business, the lease would automatically terminate. If the city sells its land, the lease may terminate within 90 days of that sale.

Eli’s will pay $2,500 a year for the lease.

When the matter initially went before the Board of Aldermen, a number of people spoke against it, citing concerns about noise, possible smoking and the loss of a downtown open space area.

Ciardiello actually hired former Speaker of the House James Amann to help him get the patio approved, arguing that he bought the downtown restaurant from former owner Richard Conine with the understanding that he would be able to have an outdoor patio. The city had approved a lease for Conine to use the same outdoor space for a patio at his Daniel Street Cafe.

When the city approved Conine’s request in 2005, then Mayor James Richetelli said, “It’s consistent with the plan for downtown Milford. We are encouraging outdoor cafes and pedestrian walkways.”

Before the aldermen voted last November to grant the lease, Ciardiello submitted signatures from neighboring businesses saying they supported the patio.