It would also like to be able to cook on site, have outdoor tables and eventually apply for a full liquor license (it currently serves wine and beer).
Seeking financial stability
According to Tracey Stark, executive director of The Center for Arts at the Armory, these changes are essential if the Armory is to remain financially stable.
"People need to know this is important to us," she said.
Currently, the Armory opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays. On Thursdays through Saturdays, it closes at midnight. It would like to open at 7 a.m. and extend its hours at night by two hours.
Under its current hours, performers need to be finishing their shows at 9:30 p.m. during much of the week and by 11:30 p.m. on weekends, and a number of dance and theater groups have passed on performing at the Armory because of the hours, Stark said.
"It's preventing us from doing the sort of programming we do to fulfill our mission," she said. Part of that mission is hosting community events and programs, but the arts center is financially "under the gun all the time," Stark said. Extended hours would help the venue land performers and events that will make the Armory more "financially stable," she said.
Needs approval from Zoning Board of Appeals
The Armory must apply to the Zoning Board of Appeals to get permission for extended hours and the other proposed changes.
The Armory, built in 1903 as a home to state volunteer militia, was for years mostly vacant until 2004, when Joseph and Nabil Sater, owners of the Middle East in Central Square, bought the building and converted it into an arts venue. As part of that process, the city's zoning board placed certain restrictions on the facility, explained Stark.
The Zoning Board of Appeals was scheduled to discuss the matter Wednesday night, but a hearing will likely take place Sept. 5. The Zoning Board of Appeals staff recommends conditional approval of the changes.
Kitchen, outdoor cafe, liquor license
Among those changes, the Armory would like a kitchen so it can serve better food. The current cafe is essentially limited to a panini press, Stark said.
In regard to outdoor seating, it would be on Highland Avenue during nice-weather months, there would be no table service or alcohol allowed, and the tables would close at dusk, she said.
One of the current zoning restrictions is that the Armory isn't permitted to apply for a full liquor license. With the Zoning Board of Appeals' approval, the Armory would still need to go though the licensing commission to get a liquor license.
Relationship with the neighborhood
Stark acknowledged some neighbors might be resistant to these proposed changes, while others will be supportive.
Running an arts venue in a neighborhood that didn't previously have one represents a chance, she said, adding, "I think we bring a lot of benefit to the city."
"We have been a good neighbor," she said.
The Armory has also posted an online petition for those who support their plans.