As the Shore returns to normal after two years of pandemic-related mandates, restrictions and other measures placed on the shoulders of service industry businesses, one trend will continue as a silver lining: outdoor dining.
Seaside Heights, like many Shore towns, began allowing restaurants to offer outdoor dining on the borough’s boardwalk when indoor dining was banned by an emergency executive order. But what started as a contingency plan became popular with visitors and business owners, and the trend of offering more outdoor space for dining has become a central part of restaurateurs’ plans going forward.
While Seaside Heights first allowed the use of sidewalks, corralled with barricades, to restaurants off the boardwalk, the formal resolution allowing outdoor dining spaces limits the practice to the board (unless a restaurant already has a dedicated outdoor space). Boardwalk dining sections will be available to restaurants that also have liquor licenses.
“It’s really just continuing the program that was done last year,” said Borough Attorney Jean Cipriani. “The fees for [the permit] will be unchanged.”
Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz said restaurants on the boardwalk with liquor licenses can apply to utilize a portion of the boardwalk outside their storefront for tables, however now that the emergency has expired and two years have gone by, the program will take into account lessons learned.
“We had some complaints from businesses that were adjoining restaurants last year about the fencing being too far out, or coming in too close to their business,” said Vaz. “We provided in the resolution the authority to approve everything. It’s basically telling the business, ‘this is where your fence can go.’”
This year, restaurant owners will submit a sketch with measurements of their proposed outdoor dining area, and a borough official will visit the restaurant to confirm the area and mark it off so furniture and other amenities can be moved in and out as necessary.