Outdoor street dining is coming to Mamaroneck Avenue and for several of the local restaurants the measure may be their only hope of staying open.
Village of Mamaroneck Trustees unanimously approved the directive to help in what Mayor Tom Murphy called an “emergency” situation of restaurants in economic crisis.
The move is a stark turnaround from several weeks ago when village leaders declined to follow surrounding communities in creating additional outdoor dining space.
In the coming days, Mamaroneck restaurants with approved outdoor dining permits will be allowed to extend onto the street and claim parking spaces for additional seating areas. Concrete barricades will be used to transform the parking spaces into dining patios. Mamaroneck Avenue will continue to be open to traffic, including bus routes.
The call for action comes after the trustees heard the outcry from the Mamaroneck Chamber of Commerce and from many residents worried that a few sidewalk tables could not sustain restaurants. “If no action is taken immediately we could see many of our restaurants close down and never reopen,” Richard Leimgruber, Vice President of the Mamaroneck Chamber of Commerce warned the Village Board of Trustees.
“They (restaurants) have suffered greatly and need additional outdoor seating. We feel that the pull for people to come to Mamaroneck are these restaurants and without these restaurants being vibrant all the other businesses are suffering as well,” Leimgruber said.
Prior to Monday’s meeting Mayor Murphy and several of the trustees met with the Chamber of Commerce representative to discuss a master plan for the seating on the avenue. The mayor said that he and village leaders had expected an increase in restaurant business once indoor dining was allowed, however that has not proven to be the case. Instead, it appears that the public’s coronavirus concerns may still cause a reluctance to dine inside.
The trend of allowing restaurants to extend the dining experience onto the street emerged during New York’s coronavirus response, reopening in phases that drastically limit restaurant service. Many communities have launched similar and successful undertakings to change streetscapes in business districts.
In the neighboring Village of Larchmont, customers have embraced the new dining experience dubbed “Larchmont al Fresco”. In Rye, Purchase Street is now blocked off to traffic transforming that main avenue into a pedestrian mall to primarily benefit food establishments.