With outdoor dining set to resume at New Jersey restaurants June 15 under various social distancing conditions, Seaside Heights this week joined a growing number of Shore towns that will temporarily allow restaurants to expand their outdoor space in order to revive business.
“There is an application process that will be managed through the zoning department,” said Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz, which will involve restaurants applying for a permit to expand to additional outdoor areas. The process will be streamlined, and dining will be allowed in areas where it is normally not permitted, including the town’s boardwalk and other outdoor areas such as along the Boulevard and in parking areas.
“It’s extremely involved, looking at virtually every business that might be impacted to make sure we considered every eventuality,” said Michael Redpath, executive director of the Seaside Heights Business Improvement District. “If our restaurants open at partial capacity for the season, a lot of them won’t make it. It’s really that simple, and it’s why all over the country communities are making provisions for dining on the street, sidewalks, or wherever. But it’s even more critical for us when we have only a 10 week season.”
Vaz said the town will likely require some simple documentation such as a certificate of insurance. The entire process for businesses to follow will be announced on the borough’s website.
Restaurants that have liquor licenses will be able to participate, but must take an addition step required by the state to expand the bounds of their license to include the new outdoor areas. That will be handled through a special state website rather than through the borough.
“We do understand the complexity, and appreciate it,” said Genevieve DiFilippo, a restaurant owner who has long advocated for out-of-the-box thinking to reopen seasonal businesses safely.
According to rules announced by the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy, restaurants that reopen June 15 must establish a limit of eight customers per table and leave at least six feet of distance between parties. In addition, for as long as indoor dining is not permitted, food or beverage establishments are required to prohibit smoking in any outdoor areas where food or drinks are being served.
Liquor licenses expansions under the program will expire Nov. 14.