CT Checkup: West Hartford businesses prepare to offer outdoor-only dining when state starts reopening

Hartford

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The town of West Hartford is working closely with local restaurants leading up to May 20, the day the state will allow them to offer outdoor dining for the first time since the pandemic hit.

Official guidelines will be announced at a council meeting later Monday evening, but West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor says that the plan will include expanding dining to public spaces–like streets, sidewalks, and even parking spaces. 

“I think it expands spaces that we already had and introduces outdoors spaces for business that might not have had the opportunity before,” she said. 

Lasalle Road is one of the streets where these changes may be implemented as it features various restaurants and eateries. At Max Burger, they already have an outdoor patio but are excited about the expansion opportunity. 

“I think that’s great,” said Douglas Kelly, the General Manager at Max Burger. “I think that increases our capacity and allows restaurants to bring more guests outside while keeping them at a safe distance.” 

Chip Lyons, a West Hartford business owner, thinks the plan is a great idea. 

“We can still have the social distancing that we so need and still create a really nice atmosphere for people to come out and enjoy being outdoors and being around other people,” he said. 

Meanwhile West Hartford resident Lori Warchol believes restaurants should stick to takeout. 

“I don’t see how that’s a real pleasant experience,” she explained. “We’re all going to be in masks and you have to be maintaining the proper social distancing.” 

And of course, there’s the concern of safety. The mayor says the town is looking into barriers to protect diners from street traffic. 

But while there are many things to consider, she says the goal is simple: 

“That it will give them the opportunity to stay afloat, to have some sense of vibrancy and a presence in the community and a bridge until the time when we can all be inside, at a bar, sharing a drink and picking up where we left off.”

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