BOSTON (WHDH) – Streets in Boston were bustling on Monday as many people flocked to restaurants to enjoy a meal on the first day of outdoor dining in the city.
Bostonians could be seen enjoying the warm weather at outdoor patios on Newbury Street in the Back Bay, where tables and chairs have been set up in spaces that are normally reserved for parking.
“This is a big moment for the restaurant industry in terms of the increase in capacity and the ability to welcome back customers,” said Jim Rooney, President and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.
Allan Rodriguez, the owner of La Neta taco shop, says the launch of outdoor dining for the season is a welcomed relief following a stressful winter.
“We want to thank the city, it’s really helping us out,” Rodriguez said of the approved parking restrictions and street closures that many eateries are using to free up extra space for dining.
Rodriguez added that he hopes the outdoor dining program will return next year too.
Jerome Bergare, the manager of La Voile restaurant, says having the ability to seat guests at an extra 10 outdoor tables makes a gigantic difference because indoor table space is limited due to the six-foot social distancing rules.
“We now have about 45 percent capacity. This will complete what we miss inside,” Bergare explained.
In Brookline, crews outside The Publick House were spotted assembling a massive open-air seating area with a roof.
Rooney did warn that the recovery process could be slow for some businesses.
“Relaxation or regulations does not in and of itself bring back business,” Rooney said. “People are going to have to be comfortable going into restaurants.”
The Ashmont Grill in Dorchester said they are expanding as quickly as possible.
“We’re trying to hire as many people as we can. Sood runners, servers, busboys, support staff, hosts,” Assistant General Manager Mike Lawlor said. “I couldn’t be happier to actually be looking for people to come to work.”
Restaurants in the North End are slated to open outdoor seating areas on April 1 due to the density of the neighborhood.
Applications for outdoor dining licenses on both public and private property are now open, and businesses can apply online.
Former Mayor Martin J. Walsh recently said that the city has received hundreds of applications, many of which have already been approved.
Outdoor dining launched last year after many safety precautions were put into place to minimize the transmission of COVID-19.
Vaccination appointments also opened up for restaurants and café workers on Monday as well.
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