OCEAN CITY – Tom Heiderman, owner of The Hobbit Restaurant, finally got the answer he was looking for this week, as he returned to the City Council for a third time, seeking permission for partial occupancy of his restaurant in the Rivendell building.
Heiderman approached the City Council last month in hopes of gaining permission to open the restaurant before the Rivendell project obtains its certificate of occupancy. Although Heiderman is aiming for an April 23 opening with Rivendell aiming for an April 18 grand opening, he maintained that, in the event that Rivendell does not receive its certificate of occupancy, he would like to still be able to open the restaurant.
The council remained hesitant to approve any aspect of the project that caused months of contention last year. In an effort to ensure that all aspects of the building and restaurant were on track, the council postponed a decision, requesting that Heiderman return on April 1 for an update.
Heiderman reported back to the council last week, but with screening for the air-conditioning units still not in place, the council remained reluctant to approve Heiderman’s request. “I still have a problem with the screening, this is important to the Bay Princess people,” said Council member Margaret Pillas, last week.
Screening of the units, located on the side of the restaurant, were a contentious issue for the neighboring Bay Princess residents. As a result, screening of the units was made a condition of approval for the project. The council postponed the decision, asking Heiderman to return once again this week.
“We’re making a lot of progress right now,” reported Heiderman this week.
Heiderman also reported that the screens, which had been on back order since January, had arrived and been installed.
Councilman Jim Hall noted that a letter from the Bay Princess Association had been received, giving its support to Heiderman’s request for partial occupancy.
The council voted unanimously, with Councilwoman Nancy Howard absent, to approve the request for partial occupancy. The restaurant must also meet all life safety criteria and pass all inspections before opening.
“It’s been a long road, congratulations on the restaurant,” said Pillas.
“All of the various people that I’ve dealt with in this process, from the city, they’ve been wonderful,” said Heiderman of town employees.