reopening

‘Whatever We Can Get Will Help:’ West Hartford Restaurants Hope to Expand Outdoor Dining

In less than a week, restaurants will be allowed to start reopening outdoor dining areas and some are still debating how or if to do that.

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In West Hartford, the town and restaurants are looking for a way to maximize opportunity.

Early next week more details should be released about an outdoor dining plan, which might lead to you eating right in a parking spot.

“We are excited. We just want to be able to open the doors and go back to business,” said Ermal Caushi, Division West partner.

Division West expects with its current permit it could start serving customers at two outdoor tables starting on May 20.

But they and other restaurants hope to do a lot more business than that.

“This is giving us the opportunity to really think out of the box, be creative and innovative,” said Mayor Shari Cantor (D - West Hartford).

Cantor says the town is working to potentially allow restaurants to expand outdoor dining on public sidewalks, parking spots or lots as well as streets.

The issue came up during a town council meeting this week.

“We would put in barriers to protect diners from vehicles and that will come at a bit of a cost,” said Matt Hart, West Hartford town manager.

Hart says they’d work to help increase outdoor options for restaurants located purely on private property.

There is also talk about going beyond just restaurants.

“We’re also planning on expanding outdoor commerce. So we’re working with our retailers to figure out how maybe kind of that sidewalk sale dynamic could work for them,” said Cantor.

The mayor says with any changes safety would be the first priority, making sure to follow federal and state rules.

At Division West, they still have a lot of questions about what will be allowed and if it will be enough to ride out this unprecedented time.

“We will see. This is unexpected for everybody. So it’s not just us in here. Whatever we can get will help us,” said Caushi.

Possible changes may start later this month and they could last the entire outdoor dining season.

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