By Barrett Seaman
It’s not news that there is a shortage of parking in the rivertowns. But it is news when a local restaurateur, owner of Dobbs Ferry’s The Rare Bit, comes up with a plan to help reduce congestion AND help local businesses, including his own. A pilot project for just such a plan launched on Valentine’s Day night.
Scott Broccoli, owner of The Rare Bit on Cedar Street, says he knew since he opened in 2018 that the parking shortage would put a crimp in business. He has been negotiating with the village for some time to offer valet parking for his guests. The Board of Trustees and Village Administrator were sympathetic and helpful, but until the village built a 100-space lot at the base of Cedar Street, there weren’t enough spaces for the valet-parked cars.
Underutilization of that lot allowed the village board to approve Broccoli’s plan at a meeting in early February. Henceforth, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, diners can pull into one of two reserved curbside spaces in front of the restaurant, pay a valet $10 in cash and have their car stashed safely in the public lot some 500 yards to the west. If they spend more than $50 on food and drink inside, Broccoli will knock that $10 off their bill. Their car will be there when they’re ready to leave.
After searching for a firm with a solid reputation, Broccoli hired Classic Valet out of New Rochelle to supply the parkers, carry the necessary insurance and manage the cash flow.
“Part of the goal,” says Broccoli, “is to reduce the congestion on Cedar Street, where drivers can circle repeatedly in what he calls “The Cedar 500” in search of a space for themselves but inevitably tying up traffic for others as well.
Assuming it all works, the next step would be to see if other Dobbs restaurants would sign onto the system. On Cedar Street alone, there’s The Parlor, Tomatillo’s, Piccola Trattoria, Sushi Mike’s and Bellacosa, a new wine bar on the corner of Cedar and Main. On Main Street itself, there’s Sam’s, Doubledays, Harpers and The Cookery—all of which are close enough to the lot to run a valet service but far enough on a cold winter’s night to deter customers from making the walk themselves. Michelle Adams, who is a partner in Harper’s on Main Street as well as St. George in Hastings, welcomes Broccoli’s pilot project. “We are really grateful to him for taking the initiative,” she says.
As Broccoli sees it, there’s no reason to limit the valet service to restaurants. “I’m hoping other businesses will see this as a blueprint.” The nail salon across the street might see it as a draw. “What makes it work,” he says, “is the lot and the proximity of the lot.”
If the new meta-valet service works for Dobbs, can it be replicated in Hastings, or Irvington or Tarrytown—each of which have similar parking problems and lots of restaurants? Other than their Metro North lots, those villages don’t have the centralized parking facilities Dobbs Ferry has with its 99 Cedar Street space. “I think it could absolutely work in the other villages,” says Michelle Adams, “but the determining factor is the proximity of a parking lot with plenty of space.”