Outdoor seating on private property extended, Public Space program ends

Mayor Martin Walsh reminded owners that outdoor dining on private property was extended indefinitely without the need for further permits. 

However, the city’s “Public Space” program expired last Tuesday. Restaurant owners in Mission Hill trying to increase business by providing an outdoor dining option started packing up their outdoor tables, chairs, heating lamps and barriers and rely solely on limited indoor dining throughout the winter months if they don’t have private space for outdoor dining. Other restaurants with limited space have decided to switch to strictly takeout for the time being. 

The Public Space program allowed restaurants throughout Mission Hill to use city sidewalks, streets, parking lots and to set up tables, chairs and other amenities for outdoor dining. 

“For restaurants, we have plans to continue our outdoor dining option,” said Walsh last week during a press conference. “The public space ended on December 1. But, outdoor dining may continue on private property indefinitely. In addition, we are working on an outdoor dining program for the spring.”

Mission Hill and Boston’s restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard by the ongoing pandemic. Tough regulations for indoor dining and other restrictions imposed by the state during the latest COVID spike made the Public Space program a godsend for some. 

To offer some relief the Walsh Administration launched the Public Space program last spring and allowed Mission Hill restaurants to use sidewalk space and the street on main thoroughfares to set up outdoor patios. The program was designed to help restaurants that dot the neighborhood increase their customer base because the number of patrons allowed inside were strictly limited due to COVID restrictions. 

However, even with a rapid expansion of outdoor dining options in Mission Hill, some restaurants still fell victim to the pandemic and could not increase margins enough to justify staying open. 

Tavern of Tales, located at 1478 Tremont St. between the Roxbury Crossing and Brigham Circle T stops, is a board-game concept bar that opened in December 2019. Since opening Tavern of Tales has been offering not only pub fare and libations but six different immersive, sound-enhanced board game adventures for patrons.

However, last month the restaurant owners said the pub would be going into ‘hibernation’ for the winter. 

“To our wonderful guests, Tavern of Tales will be going into a winter hibernation until the warmer months return,” said the bar owners in a statement posted on social media. “We appreciate your business throughout this difficult time and we look forward to coming back in full swing with more food, cocktails, board games and pinball.”

Tavern of Tales last night before taking a winter break was Dec. 5. 

“Stay tuned for more details and updates on our social channels and website for when the experiences start back up,” the statement ended. 

On September 15, the Boston Licensing Board issued an advisory regarding the extension of the City’s Temporary Outdoor Dining Program and the use of approved heaters. 

The board ruled restaurants utilizing public sidewalks and parking lanes for outdoor dining may continue the approved use of those spaces until December 1, 2020. 

However, the board said outdoor dining on private property will be extended for the duration of the COVID-19 related public health emergency. 

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