Last Thursday, Mayor Michelle Wu announced guidelines for a permanent outdoor dining program in Boston. The plan lays the groundwork for a summer of al fresco dining on the streets this year – unless the restaurant is in the North End. The Boston Globe reports that, similar to previous years, the City of Boston is imposing tougher al fresco dining rules on North End restaurants to combat noise complaints, traffic congestion and loss of parking spaces due to neighborhood al fresco dining .
This year’s outdoor dining program begins May 1 and is expected to last through November, according to the Globe. Restaurants outside of the North End are allowed to apply for permits to set up tables on sidewalks and streets as long as the configuration meets the city’s accessibility and safety requirements, such as: B. Putting up barriers around street seating. However, restaurants in the North End are not permitted to dine on the street and are only permitted to set up tables outside on sidewalks, providing a distance of 1.50 or 2.40m between the edge of the terrace and the street, depending on how busy the street is .
All restaurants are charged the same fees — $199 or $399 per month, depending on whether the business has an alcohol license — to dine al fresco. Last year, restaurants in the North End were charged an additional $7,500 for their permits and had to start their al fresco dining season later and pack earlier than restaurants in other boroughs.
Much like last year, North End restaurateurs are not happy with this development. At a recent meeting to announce the city’s al fresco dining menu, Strega restaurateur Nick Varano said the particular restrictions on North End eateries don’t allow for a “fair playing field” for the city’s restaurants. Frank DePasquale, another veteran North End restaurateur who runs a number of popular establishments including Bricco and Mare Oyster Bar, called the scheme a “mistake” and said it was “disgusting for us to be discriminated against,” reports the Globe .
While city restrictions are in place for this year, the program is likely to change again next year, according to Globe. The city is reportedly assembling a panel of restaurants, residents and city officials to weigh what al fresco dining should look like in 2024 and beyond.