He also plans to create an outside dining area with tables and awnings, a nautical rope and posts.
The board gave him tentative approval with the stipulation it wanted to see detailed plans for the outdoor dining area. The lease also includes an option for an additional five years, at one-year intervals, and with the rent to be negotiated at that time.
Although he would like to open this summer, Meimeteas said he is not sure how long renovations will take and what other permits and approvals are needed. Rather than rush the project, he said he wants to do it right — and to fit in with the other food businesses.
“I didn’t go to the Willows to compete against anybody,” Meimeteas said. “I think, if anything, it will help. Anytime you add a business and it draws people from other towns, it helps businesses throughout the whole Willows.”
In addition to the Clam Shanty, which has been in business for three years, Meimeteas used to own roast beef fast-food restaurants in Lynn.
The seafood restaurant got an enthusiastic reception from the park board, which voted unanimously for the proposal, the only response the city received to a request for proposals earlier this year. A city councilor at the Tuesday night board meeting also liked the idea and said he thinks it will fit well with the other food offerings at the Willows.
“If we have learned anything in Salem the last 15 years, the more restaurants the better,” Bill Legault told Meimeteas. “You are going to bring new people down there. ... This could be the start of the revival of Restaurant Row,” he said, a reference to restaurants here in the early 1900s.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.