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.
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.