Outdoor dining may resume next week

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Iyana Iraheta and Consuelo Lopez wave to a La Hacienda restaurant employee after picking up their food as restaurants prepare to reopen for seated dining. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)


Gov. Charlie Baker has announced the start of his Phase Two reopening plan, with, among other things, the partial reopening of restaurants, perhaps starting next week.

Local restaurants which have remained closed, and those food locations where meals or salads and subs are served inside, and which have also been closed, will likely be allowed to reopen but for outside dining only.

The restaurant plan comes with a “significant caveat,” to wit: it will be limited to outdoor dining.

Throughout Everett, very few restaurants have the space on their sidewalks or at the front of their locations to seat more than five or ten people at small tables at the most.

In most of the city’s neighborhoods, residents would likely be put off by restaurants crowding sidewalks with tables and chairs – and then there’s the question about alcohol being served outside.

Public safety requirements here do not allow for sidewalk eateries outside except for a handful of location, included among them, the popular 8/10 Restaurant on Norwood Street, which has offered outside service for several summers without incident.

And when indoor dining does resume, there will be significant social distancing restrictions. And one other thing: It’s all tentative and based on COVID-19 case numbers continuing to improve.

What most restaurateurs locally complain about here, is that even a partial reopening constitutes a non-winner because not enough people can be served for the restaurant owner to earn a living and to pay employees and bills generated by the business.

The city is expected to bend over backwards to implement the governors orders when they are distributed to the municipalities but in the end, there is not enough open space in front of most of the city’s restaurants and eateries to conduct business in such a way that it makes sense economically.

When indoor eating is finally allowed at a later date, the caveat will be that only 25-50% capacity will initially be allowed and that social distancing regulations will require all employees be wearing masks, and probably diners, too and that seating inside will be restricted to tables set 10 feet apart.

Once again, such a situation is economically untenable for most local restaurants and eateries.

Reopening the restaurant community will be one of the most difficult sectors to master a recovery.

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