Outdoor Dining in Boston
For most it has been a welcomed sight to see the sprawl of our favorite neighborhood eateries spill over from their patios onto the sidewalks and street. Though this has sacrificed some residential or metered parking, it has allowed the restaurants to serve more customers in what has been accepted as more safe outdoor environment.
For now it seems like this pandemic perk is here to stay. Bostonians have grown accustomed to the shift in use of public space in their neighborhood. The loosen of regulations around mail in voting or to go cocktails have offered convenient during a tough time for many residents and hospitality based businesses.
But one question remains. Just exactly how many Boston parking spots were lost to this expanded outdoor dining model. The city has not exactly tracked those figures and it has not been a requirement for restaurants to reveal how many parking spots they have taken to increase outdoor operations.
So far the Licensing Board’s Outdoor Dining Pilot Program has granted over 550 restaurants outdoor permits and around 200 of those use off street spaces like larger sidewalks, public seating areas and even blacktops and parking lots which are often considered private property. The other 350+ restaurants have sprawled out their patios into the street displacing vehicle parking in the process. Every patio is slightly different, some restaurants investing a real environment of platforms, garden and heating. The expanded patios have become a source of local art form, as restaurant staff have really shown their creativity. This is really akin to something you would see throughout European cities or Montreal. But then again isn’t Boston the closets thing we have to Europe?