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City to do Random Inspections of North End’s Outdoor Dining

Six-feet spaced tables, chairs and umbrellas are ok, but not couches, per the licensing board.

Following an emergency hearing with the Boston Licensing Board, North End restaurants will now be subjected to random inspections after the board received dozens of complaints about the recent “Cafe Zones” throughout the neighborhood. The hearing was mandatory for all North End restaurants to address concerns regarding adherence to the board’s regulations and public safety guidelines.

The board said most restaurants are complying, but over 50 complaints have been received through the city’s 311 system in the last two weeks. Issues cited include taking up excessive space, social distancing, dogs on the outdoor patios, loud music, and smoking.

“We will be inspecting. So I strongly suggest that, if the outdoor space of your dining area does not match the approval, you remove your stuff today and only occupy the space that you’ve been given permission from the board,” stated Chairwoman of the Licensing Board, Kathleen Joyce on Wednesday afternoon.

Outdoor dining lines Hanover Street in Boston’s North End (NEWF Image)

Many of the complaints received by officials regarded licensees overtaking more space than their approval allowed. The random inspections would ensure that the restaurant’s outdoor dining areas were within their approved areas. If a business is found in violation, Chairwoman Joyce stated “Your guests will be asked to leave immediately.”

“We are not waiting for people to pay their bills. They’ll be asked to leave right away,” said Chairwoman Joyce to those found in violation.

Six feet is required between tables (though not between chairs) under the temporary dining regulations. Servers must wear masks as do customers when they get up from tables. She reminded owners that the outdoor City property use is not a right but a privilege that comes with the responsibility of following all of their rules and regulations set forth by the board. If an outdoor violation is found, the board will then conduct an indoor inspection of the premise.

Restaurants must cease service by 10pm on weekdays with all patrons off of the outdoor spaces by 10:30pm. Service must stop by 11pm on weekends with patrons gone by 11:30 pm. Operators were also instructed to not play music on their outdoor patios or increase the music volume inside their restaurants.

No smoking is allowed by patrons and only service animals are allowed due to food safety regulations. Only tables and chairs are allowed, no couches or other forms of seating. Entertainment activities such as cornhole games or live music are not permitted.

Chairwoman Joyce reiterated how the board doesn’t wish to see the program end and urged owners to reach out if they needed help with complying with the guidelines.

“We realize it’s not easy. We want to see your neighborhood activated. We want to see your customers return with confidence,” said Chairwoman Joyce.

The full hearing can be found here.

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4 Replies to “City to do Random Inspections of North End’s Outdoor Dining

  1. This so- called inspection was a Joke. The tables & chairs are now , if you are lucky, 1 or 2 feet
    apart, all the City did was pacify residents. It is B.S. & if you think you can’t fight City Hall you are wrong. Residents have to stick together or this is going to be an on going issue. The City can’t
    be concerned about the Virus, Residents’ Safety, Rodents, Seagulls, and much more. The
    question I ask all Residents, what are you willing to do about it? People only get away with what you allow them to get away with. We all know the Restaurant Owners & some of the
    Real Estate Owners are by far, the largest political donators, so does this mean all
    Residents have to pay the price for loss of restaurant business? Absolutely not. Strength is
    in “numbers”. Marty Walsh, shame on you. The residents may not make large donations
    to your political career, but we are entitled by law, to safety.

    1. Joan ,the ” inspections”were a joke and BS is an accurate description.They were meant to pacify the residents. It reminds me of growing up in the NE back in the day when the City and police would “raid” the many bookie clubs and mom and pop stores to stop illegal gambling ( Now the State Lottery has become the bookies).Of course the day after the raids it was business as usual.But it did pacify some residents.Its time to pull the plug on this idiotic idea of outdoor dining which makes many residents collateral damage.The residents owe the wealthy restaurant owners NOTHING! Your right it’s long overdue for people to stand up and be heard! These protests around the country & world have shown that their is strength in numbers.
      .

  2. Prince Street from the North End Park to Hanover.
    Overnight signs were put up on the park end saying “Do not enter, One way” The street has been one way the other way for years and the signs at the Hanover St end are still there saying “one way, do not enter”.
    So now we have a block of Prince St. that cannot be entered from either way. Great for the restaurant that puts tables out at 11 am and takes up the entire street in front of their restaurant. Wonder who they know that got the signs put up over night

  3. Miriam, People only get away with what you allow them to get away with. Boston is the city of
    Payoffs. All those restaurant owners have to pray there are no fires, gas leaks & seagull attacks,
    and guess what , the Hawks aren’t doing bad either. Why does there always have to be a
    tragedy before things are corrected. What happened to the Virus? May God helps us all.

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