Traffic Commission Extends Outdoor Dining Program

Outdoor dining in Chelsea has gotten the okay to continue in the city for the next year.

Initially proposed in Chelsea and other communities throughout the country as a way to improve business for restaurants during the Covid-19 pandemic, on Tuesday, the Traffic and Parking Commission unanimously voted to extend outdoor dining for another 12 months.

“There are three restaurants that have really embraced the outdoor dining program, all on Broadway,” said Public Works Director Fidel Maltez. “They have done a good job with outfitting their spots with Jersey barriers, and one of them even has a flooring system.”

When it was initially approved by the traffic commission, Maltez said the plan was to review the program in October.

“We have reviewed it, and the three restaurants that have it have been successful,” said Maltez. “What I am requesting is we grant them the approval to keep their spots and occupy them for another 12 months.”

Alexander Train, the Director of Housing and Community Development, said making the outdoor dining program more permanent could entice other restaurants to take part.

“The restaurants that have embraced this have reported that it has been generating business for them throughout the pandemic by providing an outdoor location where people can feel safe and comfortable gathering,” said Train. “Our hope is that by making this permanent, more restaurants will really see the justification of making the investment in these spaces. Some of the restaurants that we coordinated with at the beginning of the program didn’t want to expend the money on making these outdoor dining areas because it was a temporary program, so I’m pretty optimistic that by making this permanent, we would see more outdoor dining in the downtown.”

Increasing the number of restaurants providing outdoor dining would improve the streetscape of the city and benefit small businesses, Train said.

While the motion to extend outdoor dining passed unanimously, there were some concerns raised about some of the outdoor dining spaces being close to crosswalks, and making sure the crosswalks in those areas are marked better.

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