Propane Tanks’ Approval Crucial for Opening of Downtown Amherst, Massachusetts Restaurants

AMHERST, MA — The much-anticipated openings of two restaurants in a downtown Main Street building are contingent upon obtaining approval for installing propane tanks on both town and private property.

As the Berkshire Gas natural gas extension moratorium remains in effect, the planning board will convene a hearing to decide on placing eleven 120-gallon propane tanks. These tanks will cook at 61-63 Main Street block establishments.

Matthew Lacroix, owner and president of Baystate West, which is based in Ludlow, and Real Property Management, has obtained approval from the design review board, responsible for overseeing the aesthetics of downtown properties, for installing these tanks.

Lacroix explained, “Due to the gas moratorium, our restaurants are currently unable to cook. They have requested that we obtain permits to install propane tanks on-site to address this issue.”

The gas moratorium imposed by Berkshire Gas has been in place since March 2015, leading to challenges for businesses dependent on gas for cooking.

One affected business is Lao Hu Tong, a new Chinese restaurant set to replace the now-closed The Lone Wolf at 63 Main Street. However, the lack of gas availability has hindered its opening. Additionally, the neighboring site, which previously housed Himalaya Friends Corner, has remained vacant, with a prospective tenant expressing interest only if the propane tanks are installed.

While the second floor of the building continues to serve as apartments, Lao Hu Tong urgently requires eight propane tanks for its operations. Lacroix emphasized, “Getting these tanks in place is our priority to ensure the timely opening of the restaurant.”

Due to the property’s configuration, Lacroix must also secure approval from Kendrick Property Management, the owner of 73 Main Street. Kendrick has submitted a letter expressing no objection to the tanks being placed along the cement walkway. The only request was for the four existing 90-gallon trash and recycled totes to remain at the rear of the property.

For the town’s part, the propane tanks will be situated at the edge of the municipal parking lot behind Town Hall.

Past instances in Amherst have seen restaurants successfully utilize propane tanks, such as the former Fratelli’s Ristorante, which installed an underground tank, and the Texas Roadhouse in Hadley, which uses above ground tanks.

As the approval process progresses, it is essential to prioritize the installation of propane tanks to support the opening of these downtown Amherst restaurants. Cooking with propane offers a viable solution amid the gas moratorium, ensuring a vibrant restaurant scene and culinary experiences for the community.

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