Another successful season of outdoor dining in the North End of Boston is drawing to a close in about a week, a month ahead of other neighborhoods, disappointing restaurant owners and loyal patrons.
The city's restaurant pilot program, which started during the coronavirus pandemic and is wrapping up its second year, will allow outdoor dining in the North End until Nov. 1. Other neighborhoods will be allowed to serve outdoors until Dec. 1.
"I'm a little disappointed about that," said Joanne Herrick, who routinely travels from New Hampshire to enjoy the outdoor dining atmosphere.
The city said it's ending al fresco dining in the North End earlier than other neighborhoods for a variety of reasons, including heavy traffic, parking issues and construction projects.
"I think it's a little unfair, because I think it's all one city, and it should be all treated the same," said Frank DePasquale, who owns several restaurants on busy Hanover Street. "It's a life saver. We suffered an awful lot with this COVID, and this was our opportunity to get a little bit back, and we're very happy that we've had this privilege."
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DePasquale said he wishes he had another month, like last year, but said he understands the rationale. In 2020, the city extended outdoor dining through Dec. 1.
Other restaurant owners said the North End's popularity will endure, even without the benefit of extra tables outside.
"It really is coming back very strong. It's coming back," said Frank Pezzano, who owns Ristorante Saraceno. "So, people still going to come back no matter what."
Outdoor dining across the city will likely return next spring.