Outdoor dining season gets underway Sunday in Boston's North End, following a bitter battle between restaurant owners and Mayor Michelle Wu over a hefty fee to take part in the city's program this year.
The barriers are up, and chairs and tables are just waiting to be set for customers who want to dine outside starting Sunday -- several weeks after the rest of the city.
"The summer time is here and we ran one month after everybody else but we’re ready to go and we’re going to show people a great time and all the owners and all the managers and all the staff are so excited to put it together for them," said North End restaurant owner Frank DePasquale.
DePasquale applied for outdoor dining permits for several of his restaurants in the area but says staffing took a hit being behind the rest of Boston.
"It doesn’t exactly put a smile on your face when a lot of your employees go to another location to work that have been with you for 20 years or so but we’ll live with it and we’ll move forward and we’ll be the best that we could be," he said.
North End restaurants also had to pay a $7,500 fee for outdoor dining, plus over $450 per parking spot.
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"It is what it is," said Adrian DeStefano, owner of Cafe Paradiso. "If you make the money, pay up. Simple as that."
For DeStefano, it's the new rules for barriers that clash with the neighborhood's European charm. Bright orange plastic barriers line Hanover Street.
"It’s not my favorite color, let’s put it this way," DeStefano said of the bright orange plastic barriers that line Hanover Street. "Last year I had flowers and all that. Tomorrow I’ll put some flowers on."
There are plenty of visitors to the North End, and on Sunday, participating restaurants will have more seats to welcome them. Some owners hope it lasts longer, but for now, everyone is just looking forward to the summer kickoff.
"I hope they will extend it, it would be nice until September 30th," said DeStefano, "but we're just hoping it’s gonna be a nice summer. Let’s hope. Let’s keep our fingers crossed."