Front row: Left, Peter Dolan, Esquire, Right, Ashraf Khalil
POTTSTOWN, PA – Wednesday evening the Pottstown Zoning Board heard testimony from iCreate Cafe owner, Ashraf Khalil, regarding his request for a zoning variance to operate a cafe and computer training center at 130 King Street, Pottstown. The neighborhood is zoned TTN or Traditional Town Neighborhood. After receiving a violation notice from the Pottstown Codes Department in August, a hearing was originally scheduled for September 17th. However, Mr. Khalil’s attorney, Peter Dolan, requested a continuance to adequately prepare his case. The hearing was rescheduled for October 15th.
A large group of supporters gathered in the 3rd floor council chambers to hear the evidence be presented. After Mr. Khalil’s sworn testimony and some clarification questions from the board, the meeting was opened to public comment. More than a dozen people were allowed to speak in favor of iCreate Cafe and Mr. Khalil.
After the public testimony, the board met in Executive Session. After a short recess, the board returned to the council chamber and rendered their verdict for Mr. Khalil and iCreate Cafe by allowing the variance.
First of all, we thank the Pottstown Zoning Board for being open-minded and seeing the value of this niche market small business that draws customers from all over the Delaware Valley and beyond. Based on the passionate testimony made during the public comments, it’s obvious this is a very special place.
Secondly, we feel now that Pottstown is getting serious about economic development and tourism (by developing a Tourism District and leveraging all the attractions that surround Memorial Park and the Western Gateway) having a highly rated locally owned restaurant within walking distance is a win-win. If you want people to come to Pottstown and “spend the day” they will need to eat. They are not going to want fast food or chain restaurants. They are going to want something they cannot get at home. iCreate Cafe is the total package when it comes to something you cannot get just anywhere. From the unique decor to the vegan/vegetarian food with a Middle Eastern flair, it’s far from ordinary. Add a chef/owner with the gift of hospitality and you have a winning trifecta.
This was a great victory for small business and for Pottstown. If Pottstown could attract more unique restaurants like iCreate and some funky boutiques so people could do some shopping while they are visiting, you would have yourself a destination.
Congratulations to Ashraf Khalil and iCreate Cafe. We wish you much success.