north end

Outdoor Dining in Boston's North End Extended Through September

North End restaurant owners were charged for outdoor dining, but a city representative said that those funds haven't covered half the cost of the program

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The outdoor dining program in Boston's North End will continue for a few more weeks, through the end of September, a city representative confirmed Friday.

They cited the fact that there have not been any major issues with compliance in the historic neighborhood, the only one where businesses have been charged thousands of dollars to let patrons eat outside this summer, a plan that generated controversy when it was first announced.

Outdoor dining in the North End has cost Boston over $700,000 — more than double the amount collected from restaurants, according to the city.

The majority of money, $623,770, was spent on public works, which includes sweeping, Hokeys — or cleaning crews — and power-washing.

More than $51,000 went to the Boston Transportation Department for signage and personnel. Over $38,000 was spent on traffic detail and enforcement.

Adriana DeStefano was part of the committee that advised the city on how the outdoor dining funds should be spent. She said her priorities included "to make sure we had the rodent problem taken care of, that you have the cleaning taken care of. That's been accomplished, and it's not an easy task to do."

A graphic showing how much the city has spent on outdoor dining in Boston's North End
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How much the city has spent $714,330 on outdoor dining in Boston's North End in 2022, as of July.

"I find it very hard to believe that it cost $623,000 to clean the North End because the trash doesn't come from the restaurants so why did the restaurants have to pay for that?" asked Jen Royle, owner of Table, Table Mercato, and Table Caffé in the North End.

She has been sharing pictures of trash around the neighborhood on Twitter, dissatisfied with the city's maintenance.

"They were supposed to power-wash our sidewalk, look at my sidewalk," she said, pointing to a stain outside of her business. "To only charge one neighborhood and to not see any difference, the whole thing blows my mind. It's disgraceful."

A city spokesperson said Public Works power washes the North End on weekends in the early-morning and overnight hours, and that it is the only neighborhood with that level of frequency.

Participating restaurants were charged $7,500 for outdoor patios, plus $480 for each parking space they use. The city says it collected $300,000 in fees from businesses. The rest of the funds came from department budgets.

The North End's outdoor dining program was initially set to end on Sept. 5, but has been extended through the end of the month. The rest of Boston's outdoor dining program will continue in the rest of the city through December.

Some North End restaurant owners are fighting back against Boston Mayor Michelle Wu's plan to charge large fees for outdoor dining in that neighborhood.

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