The chill in the October air is a sure sign that Boston's North End outdoor dining program has come to an end for the year, meaning traffic is back to two lanes on all streets in the city's historic neighborhood.
Friday was the final night for diners to partake in the North End's outdoor dining program, which was initially set to end on Sept. 5, but was 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.
The North End's program got off to a rocky start, when it was announced that only North End restaurant owners participating in the program would be charged thousands of dollars to let patrons eat outside this summer.
But the program went on without any major compliance issues. It was profitable, and in the end, owners say the fee wasn't a problem.
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"They made the money, so pay and shut up, that's what I thought all along," one owner said. "We all did well, everyone did well, so you can't lie about it, I mean they know the numbers...come on."
"I did enjoy it," one diner said. "I think just being outside, getting fresh air is really nice."
The city of Boston said back in August that the program had cost the city over $700,000 as of July -- more than double the amount collected from restaurants. The majority of money, $623,770, was spent on public works, which included 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.
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.