DECATUR — The resurrection of the fabled Del Carmen’s East pizza restaurant rests on the plate of the Decatur City Council.
The council agenda Tuesday night includes a unanimous recommendation from the Decatur City Plan Commission and the city’s professional staff to rezone a chunk of land near the old Del Carmen’s East location, 221 N. 22nd St., so a new Del Carmen’s can be built.
The rezoning would allow an adjacent 6,000-square-foot parcel at 2152 E. Prairie St. to become part of the business site and free-up space for additional parking. Larry and Martha Stanley, the owners of the former Del Carmen’s East which was destroyed in an arson fire in September 2016, said Thursday a new eatery might be in place by the fall if the rezoning gets the green light.
Larry Stanley said the new restaurant will be bigger and gobble up some of the existing parking area. “We just want to have enough room to move the building back from the road a little further and have enough room for parking,” he added.
He said there has been a lot of business interest in recreating the restaurant and the Stanleys won’t be the prime ingredient in the ownership this time: “We have a daughter who is interested in rebuilding it,” he said. “The business is mainly going to be hers but we will probably work with her for quite a while with it.”
The Stanleys had owned the restaurant for 30 years before it burned and safeguarded the pizza recipe which had won diehard fans over the decades. Since the building went up in flames, Stanley said someone stops to ask him almost every day when it’s coming back.
He said he met one man who hadn’t even “had any pizza in the house” since the Del Carmen’s East demise but ate some from another restaurant the other day when his daughter dropped by with it. “He said on a scale of one to 10 I’ll give ‘em a 10-minus,” he recalled with a laugh. “I guess mine would be a 10-plus.”
He said he is now just hoping the city council slices its decision his way.
In other business, the council will also consider plans for a new medical building and re-arrangement of parking spaces at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital. The council must approve the request because the hospital is zoned as a planned development, which is a type of zoning that gives the city more control over the property’s uses.
Documents provided to the council show that the hospital is seeking to build a two-story facility with roughly 29,000 square feet on its campus. The building would include “specialty medical services,” but the hospital did not define the specific purpose in its request to the council.
A hospital spokesman declined to comment Thursday afternoon.