The Zoning Board of Appeals yesterday gave unanimous approval to filling a long vacant, once fire ravaged block on Chestnut Hill Avenue with a place where people can spend an hour petting cats and then fill up on gyro and souvlaki.
Diane Kelly plans to stock her Purr Cat Cafe with up to 20 felines from local shelters at 167 Chestnut Hill Ave. Customers will book a block of time at what would be Boston's first cat cafe, pay online, then enter through an airlock-style door and spend time petting cats and using the free WiFi.
"We do think this is the purr-fect location for it," Kelly's attorney, Nicholas Zozula said, adding, "there's more of those if you like."
Zozula said the cafe would be among 100 or so cat cafes in the US. "I don't know why Boston's so far behind in the cat-cafe curve," he said.
He predicted the bulk of the cafe's customers would be BC students and nearby residents who would stroll over for their cat-petting cravings.
Last month, Kelly told the Brighton-Allston Improvement Association that she's looking at seating for up to 40 people.
Zozula said litter will be picked up twice a week - and that the cafe will have a special rooftop filtration system to deal with odors in between pickups.
The cat cafe will not prepare or serve any food.
The block has been empty since a fire in 2012 destroyed the three restaurants that used to be there.
After approving the cat cafe, the board heard a request for a permit for Gyro City, whose owner, Paul Christopher, opened his first gyro place on Peterborough Street in the Fenway, in another block rebuilt after a major fire.
After being cautioned by board Chairwoman Christine Araujo, "No puns, please," Gyro City attorney Joe Hanley said the 40-seat restaurant would provide full-service Greek cuisine in the block's remaining two storefronts. He said Christopher will be applying for a beer-and-wine license. He added the restaurant would have three patio seats outside.
The board also approved the restaurant unanimously. It also needs approval from the Boston Licensing Board to serve food.