Boston’s North End opens for outdoor dining after fee controversy

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Political analysts call it a “big win” for Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

Boston, MA 05/1/22 An order is served outside Quattro Ristorante-Grill-Pizzeria on Hanover Street. May 1 marks the first day of outdoor dining in the North End. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)

It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the 70s as Boston’s North End neighborhood opened up for outdoor dining on Sunday. The outdoor seating allocation comes weeks after the rest of the city and amid controversy over outdoor dining rules in the neighborhood.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s decision to set different rules for the North End, including a $7,500 fee per restaurant to open outdoor dining for the season, has been controversial among establishments in the North End, some owners protesting the decision.

The fee is intended to help ease the impact of outdoor dining on North End residents, which Wu said includes congested streets, parking issues and increased litter and rats.

But a North End restaurant owner, Jorge Mendoza of Monica, felt so aggrieved by the decision that he decided to run for Boston City Council and ultimately for mayor.

While a clear majority of Boston.com readers said they didn’t think Wu’s outdoor dining fees were fair, Wu introduced some flexibility with the ability to request a hardship waiver and the possibility of opening for outdoor dining for only part of the summer. .

“Win, win, win for Michelle Wu on every level,” Democratic analyst Mary Anne Marsh told WCVB’s “Off the Record.” “She stood up for the people of the North End and they appreciated it.”

“She showed restaurateurs…that they weren’t going to succeed just because they protested, pouted, shouted and all. And then she got all the changes she wanted in the North End, and they paid for it.

Republican analyst and lawyer Andrew Lelling agreed with Marsh.

“Dining out in the North End is hugely popular. You feel like the restaurant owners were playing chicken with Mayor Wu and it didn’t go so well,” he said.

Frank DePasquale, owner of several North End restaurants, said WBZ-TV that outdoor dining is financially crucial for neighborhood restaurants, especially after the pandemic has caused so much hardship for the industry.

“It’s huge for us. I personally lost half a dozen people. But we understand and it’s about us being one family. residents and businesses. »

DePasquale told the news station there are numerous rule changes for outdoor dining this year in the North End in addition to new fees, including where there is one-way traffic and four foot spacing so people can muddle through.

“They’re testing all of these things, and I think it’s for the best of everything,” he said.

Caffe Paradiso owner Adrian DeStefano said Boston News 25 that she had mixed feelings about the new rules, but was happy to be open for outdoor dining.

“I think it’s fantastic, I’m happy. You know, it’s a long wait. So we’ve been waiting a long time, especially this year when everyone’s coming out,” she said.

“We also understand that the North End is one of the main local points and there are too many restaurants and it is very crowded. We understand that, but you know what, in Europe, it’s congested and no one is killed.

In the end, customers who dined out in the North End seemed pleased with the outcome.

“It’s very relaxing due to COVID, it’s very safe. It’s a beautiful sunny day and it’s not hot, it’s perfect,” Amy said. WBZ NewsRadio.

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