More than two months after the Alexandria Planning Commission put Del Ray Pizzeria on a form of probation for a series of permit violations, City Council approved an increase in seating at the restaurant on Saturday.
The pizzeria is now permitted for 72 indoor seats, 20 outdoor seats and an upstairs special event room with 30 seats that will be available on weekends on a reservation basis.
An annual review of the restaurant in December revealed that it was operating with more than twice the amount of seating allowed in its permit and other violations, including some involving trash and deliveries.
The seating violation was the result of some miscommunication that occurred when a partial ownership change happened shortly after the pizzeria opened. One of the new owners overseeing day-to-day operations of the restaurant thought the seating could be increased as long as the number stayed within the fire code. The owners immediately applied for an updated permit to allow the new seating.
In April, planning commissioners opted to defer the pizzeria’s request to increase its seating for two months so the restaurant could show compliance with its permit before considering amending it. The restaurant was ordered to reduce its seating roughly 56 seats during the probation period.
Del Ray Pizzeria co-owner Erik Dorn apologized to council on Saturday for the violations that occurred. Dorn and attorney Duncan Blair told council that restaurant staff had put in place procedures to assure permit violations will not occur anymore.
The new dining room for special events was approved on conditions it could be used only on a reservation basis, its availability is limited to weekends, that patrons of the room utilize 10 off-street parking spots and that the room and its seating never be used as overflow for the restaurant.
Blair said there is “a cry in the community” for rooms at restaurants that can accommodate children’s birthday parties and events for youth sports teams since venues like Generous George’s closed.