Restaurants looking to continue their outdoor dining program might rethink that decision once they see what it could cost them.
In a meeting Thursday night, it was announced that North End restaurants will have to pay a $7,500 fee to continue with the outdoor dining program.
The new rule is set to start on May 1.
As outdoor dining has become popular since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, around 130 resident parking spots have been overtaken by patio space for restaurants. Those parking spots will soon be available, in addition to the fee, according to WCVB.
A portion of Hanover Street will also become one-way, between Cross and Richmond streets during the outdoor dining period, the Boston Herald reported.
Outdoor dining spaces will be required to have an evacuation plan and subject to new closing hours, the program read.
Some restaurant owners in the area can agree with some of the changes that are coming May 1, except the fee. Jen Royle, owner of Table in the North End, has acclimated to a new set of rules for restaurant owners in the area, but claims the fee is not something that owners should be subject to.
“I appreciate the residents’ concern, but it seems we found a happy medium with the date and time adjustments, as well as the restaurants pitching in for the parking garages. But sticking restaurants with a $7,500 bill on top of that isn’t right,” Royle told MassLive.
Royle is also the owner of Mercato, and, a coffee shop, Caffe. Owning three properties doesn’t come cheap.
“We all pay at least $50,000 a year in meals tax and we all pay property taxes. I pay $25,000 in property taxes. That money should be going towards power washing the sidewalks and rat control, which are two examples the city has mentioned,” Royle said.
Royle added that it’s questionable the program is costing the city so much money. “If approximately 80 restaurants pay $7,500, I find it hard to believe the North End dining program costs the city $600,000.”
All Boston restaurants, in and beyond the North End area, can submit applications to the city to be a part of this year’s outdoor dining program. Restaurants that participated last year will also need to apply again, according to the city’s 2022 temporary outdoor dining program.
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