More signs of life as outdoor dining kicks in

More signs of life as outdoor dining kicks in

PAWTUCKET – The city’s restaurant scene stirred a bit more this week, preparing for what many hope will be a big first weekend of outdoor dining under mostly dry skies.

During a meeting last Thursday, May 14, the City Council approved a resolution to simplify the opening of outdoor dining and support the restaurants, making it so they don’t have to jump through all the ordinary hoops to do business.

The resolution remains in effect through Sept. 30, one of three amendments made by the council prior to final approval. From this point through Sept. 30, anyone who wants to participate in outdoor food service, adding to existing takeout service, can do so by abiding by all the state regulations put into effect by executive order.

The council also stipulated that restaurants will serve from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and alcohol will be served from 4 to 10 p.m. with last call at 9:30 p.m.

City Council President David Moran thanked Councilor Elena Vasquez for bringing up the matter so the council could act, and also thanked Councilors Terry Mercer, Meghan Kallman and Tim Rudd for working on short notice as members of the ordinance subcommittee to do the required legwork.

The city clerk’s office has worked with the administration and City Council to try to make the process for restaurants to fill out an application for outdoor dining as easy as possible, he said. As of Monday, nearly 10 businesses had submitted their applications.

Monday’s lifting of restrictions statewide allows outdoor service areas with certain restrictions, including spacing of tables, reservation-only dining, eliminating shared objects, and frequent cleaning. Diners are told to stay home if they feel sick. They’re asked to wear a mask where possible when not eating. Restaurants are expected to maintain an employee worklog and also retain names and contact information of diners for 30 days to make available to the Rhode Island Department of Health for contact tracing if needed.

After some predictions last week for some poor weather to start the new normal for restaurants, this week is turning out to be fairly dry but generally cool. The big night for outdoor dining could be this Friday, May 22, with sun and a high near 80 possible.

The Guild posted this week that starting today, Wednesday, May 20, its Beer Garden will be open under fresh guidelines, including no walk-ups, departures as defined reservation times end, and no intermingling between tables spaced 12 feet apart (the general rule is six feet), among others.

Mayor Donald Grebien said the city will continue to stand alongside its small businesses. They are the backbone of the local economy, he said.

“As we move forward in the future to Phase II and Phase III (of the state’s reopening), with guidance from the state, we will continue to assist all of our businesses,” he said. “We thank our restaurant owners for being such a significant fabric of our community.”