Take your Chianti and… 

Just imagine the downside of living within walking distance of an eatery that serves up lattés and pasta salads. Worse yet, imagine living just across the alley from the stifling, unrelenting smell of oregano.

Peter Lambros, owner of Caffé Dolce at Southgate Mall, hopes to build a second Dolce on the corner of Beckwith Avenue and Brooks Street. Lambros, who has an option to buy the corner parcel that now houses a law office, a defunct service station and a small house, hopes to open a 70-seat bistro offering espresso, gelato, sandwiches and tableware. (He hopes to eventually purchase a cabaret license that would allow him to serve beer and wine, but that, he says, is a ways off.)

After talking with “at least 100” nearby neighbors, he says, Lambros has made various concessions: He’s shortened his proposed operating hours by an hour, agreed not to disturb the alleyway or the small house, and plans to build a wall and plant an 8-foot hedge as a sound barrier.

Many of the plan’s changes—improvements, Lambros says—have come about in response to alley-neighbor Anthony Acerrano’s suggestions, Lambros says, including a dumpster modification.

“A plastic lid will be used so he doesn’t hear the noise of the dumpster closing,” Lambros says.

Proposed developments in Missoula, however benign, can often result in testy and heated exchanges, but both Lambros and neighbor Acerrano express mutual respect.

Acerrano, though, has many concerns with the project.

“It’s the whole intensity of the operation,” he says. Acerrano fears that throngs of people laughing and carousing on an outdoor patio until late in the evening will disturb the neighborhood’s peace. Patio and patrons will be within 50 to 60 feet of some homes, he says.

“This is a massive intrusion into our quality of life,” Acerrano says.

Currently, the proposed café needs City Council’s approval to move forward. A vote is scheduled for April 4. Acerrano feels like neighbors are in a quandry, wondering if the devil that they know is better than the devil that they don’t know.

“We’re also afraid something worse might come in,” he says.

Worse than Chianti and cappuccinos? Like table wine and drip coffee?

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