Boston

North End Restaurants Making Final Preparations for Return of Outdoor Dining

Several restaurant owners had vowed to sue the City of Boston over its $7,500 fee that it was charging North End restaurant owners for the right to participate in the city's outdoor dining program

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After a weeks long food fight, Boston's North End is preparing for outdoor dining.

"Very excited to be setting up, it is a sign of summer coming," Basil Freddura, with The Daily Catch, said Friday. "It is nice to be sitting outside in the summer, you feel like you are in Europe."

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On Friday, restaurants up and down Hanover Street started setting up tables, chairs and barriers.

For weeks, the outcome here was unclear, after several North End restaurant owners vowed to sue the City of Boston over its $7,500 fee that it was charging North End restaurant owners for the right to participate in the city's outdoor dining program. Restaurant owners here claimed it was unfair only restaurants in the North End had to pay the fee.

"I am the guy who is suing the city of Boston," Jorge Mendoza, owner of Monica's in the North End said Friday.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is not backing down from her plan to charge $7,500, plus hundreds for each parking spot used, for North End restaurants to set up outdoor dining.

Mendoza says he paid the fee, and will have outdoor dining, even though he disagrees with it.

"I need to think of my staff and those who live off my business, so I need the space because I need to compete," he said.

Mendoza also said supply chain issues led to delays in finding all the equipment the city is requiring this year.

"The dividers are hard to get, everyone is scrambling for them," he added. "If you walk around the neighborhood it looks like we are in a construction site, last year the neighborhood looked picturesque."

Outside Florentine Cafe, employees were busy Friday filling up barriers with water and setting up tables and chairs.

"When the sun shines, the North End comes alive," JJ Fadden, with Florentine Cafe, said. "It just gives us some flexibility, it gives us an opportunity to claw back some of our losses over the last two years and gives the city a different kind of experience we have not had before."

For all of Boston besides the North End, outdoor dining is now in effect.

On Friday, the City of Boston said 67 North End restaurants applied for outdoor dining; 28 restaurants applied for hardship waivers and 23 were granted, the city added.

"At the end of the day we are all just at the city's discretion, we are on their space, and they have given the ability to use it, and we need to stay inside their margins," Fadden said.

As for Mendoza, he says he is so fed up by all of this he is launching a sticker campaign for a city council seat in next Monday's election. He added his lawsuit against the city will be filed in federal court next week.

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