NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven is celebrating summer-like weather in April by expanding the regular outdoor dining season.
The season start date will move from May to April. It will continue through November. Qualifying restaurants can expand outdoor dining year-round.
Structures must be portable and able to be removed during poor weather. Restaurants that plan to apply said it’s a business boost during inflation woes.
“It would mean more income for her business and it would also mean that families have the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors all year,” said Juana Ramirez, the owner of Salsa’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine.
It’s a continue of a feature that restaurants saw during the pandemic.
“It became the norm to eat outside regardless of the weather,” said Adil Chokairy, who owns Crepe Choupette. “Enjoying food or drink while their is air around you tastes a little better.”
Crepe Choupette was one of several eateries that received a notice that it would be fined because it didn’t remove the outdoor dining structures that had been permitted to be up from April to November. The restaurants repurposed parking spaces and sidewalks, which Mayor Justin Elicker said posed a challenge with snow-removal.
The city later reversed its decision to fine the restaurants.
“It proposed an opportunity for us to have conversations,” Elicker said. “There’s some growing pains with these things. We have hundreds and hundreds people working for the city and everyone’s trying to do their role. They don’t want me to say, ‘Why isn’t the road plowed”‘ I’m getting all these complaints. But, at the same time, we want to facilitate our businesses having opportunities to make more money and support our residents.”
Chokairy said the decision helped New Haven’s restaurant scene.
“Once we talk and they said, ‘No, no it’s good for the city to keep the outdoor,’ they understood, so I think it was a miscommunication,” Chokairy said.
People eating outdoors on Thursday said eating outdoors year-round will bring more people and vibrancy to the city.
“You occasionally have a February week that really truly feels like June,” said Vienna Scott, who lives in New Haven. “So, I think the climate of this place, it makes sense to give restaurants the flexibility.”
Restaurants can apply for year-round outdoor dining permits on the city’s website.
Restaurant week in New Haven beings Sunday.