When the state and city began lifting restrictions on restaurants dozens of East Boston eateries rushed to get a special ‘outdoor’ dining permit from City Hall to help reopen safely and serve food/drinks outside while allowing their patrons to practice social distancing during the pandemic.
However, some smaller restaurants needed a little extra help and got it thanks to the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (OED).
Through the Reopen Boston: Outdoor Dining pilot initiative, OED worked closely with small businesses in Eastie, like Tawakal Halal Cafe, to navigate the application process for a temporary outdoor dining license.
The OED team did explicit outreach in Eastie to engage restaurants like Tawakal Halal Cafe experiencing barriers to completing the licensing process.
Tawakal Halal Cafe took full advantage of the pilot program and was granted a license for Extension of Premises through the Temporary Extension on Public Property.
The cafe, located on the corner of Maverick and Jeffries Streets, was able to expand their dining into the building backyard as well as place temporary Jersey Barriers on the street so customers can safely dine outside.
While indoor dining with limited capacity is now allowed in Boston and the state many still opt to eat outside during the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary extension of outdoor dining also allows restaurants recoup some of the losses of having limited capacity inside dining establishments.
Some other restaurants that got help extended their outdoor dining capabilities included Mi Rancho Restaurant; the Cunard Tavern; La Cancun; Casa Colombia; Tutti Frutti; Maverick’s; Napoles Restaurant; Bohemios Restaurant Bar; Rincon Limeno Restaurant; Barney’s Grill; Pazza On Porter; Mi Pueblito; Luna’s; and Renegade’s Pub.
“Boston is committed to a safe, phased reopening process,” said Walsh. “That includes helping our small businesses open safely and successfully, and we’ve been working wherever we can to remove barriers and provide new opportunities. The restaurant industry has been incredibly impacted by this global pandemic, and we’ve made helping the small businesses that make our neighborhoods and city so special a priority during this time.”
The Licensing Board is actively issuing approvals for temporary extensions on private and public property, and applications will continue to be reviewed and approved on a rolling basis. Applications and guidance are available on boston.gov, the Licensing Board has been conducting outreach throughout Boston’s neighborhoods to encourage restaurants to apply for this program.
Under the special licenses those outdoor spaces can remain open until 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends.
Outdoor restaurant tables must be minimum six feet away, and tables can’t seat more than six people. Workers must wear masks, and patrons must wear masks until they are seated at their tables.
Because bar areas still remain closed at neighborhood restaurants, the Licensing Board also voted last month to lift citywide the preexisting condition of “alcohol with food only” on outdoor space or any other similar condition that prohibits the sale and service of alcohol on outdoor space without the service of a food item.