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City of Boston Launches 2024 Season of Outdoor Dining Program

Mayor Michelle Wu today announced applications are open for the 2024 season of Boston’s Outdoor Dining Program. The current, post-pandemic program was designed in partnership with the Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion (OEOI), the Streets Cabinet, and the Disabilities Commission to provide a predictable, streamlined process for business owners while addressing accessibility and quality of life issues for residents. To assist restaurant owners, this year’s rollout will include new features such as outdoor dining consultations, accessible design templates, real-time application tracking, office hours, site visits, and an option to apply separately for annual license renewals. The online application portal opened today, with approved business owners able to begin outdoor dining on May 1.

“Boston’s outdoor dining program reimagines how we can best use our streets, while setting clear requirements around accessibility,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “This year, we’re making it easier for new and previously approved businesses to take part in the program, creating spaces to gather together and enjoy the cuisine of our small businesses.”

“Our restaurateurs reflect the diversity and talent of our city’s residents, so we’re thrilled to continue outdoor dining for another year to keep our small businesses thriving,” said Segun Idowu, Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion. “This season will build on what we’ve learned over the last few years of outdoor dining in our city, solidifying Boston as a summer food destination for residents and visitors alike.”

As announced with the program last year, all approved businesses participating in outdoor dining will be required to pay $399 per month if they have a liquor license and $199 per month if they do not. The City will have a streamlined application process for returning applicants whose patio designs were approved last year.

In 2020, the Outdoor Dining Pilot Program was created under temporary state legislation as a business relief response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The City listened to residents’ concerns regarding accessibility, noise, and public safety concerns to create the requirements of the current program. The outdoor dining program requires businesses to submit site plans drawn by a registered architect or engineer for outdoor dining setups on the street and sidewalk. Applicants must fulfill certain design requirements around accessibility, regarding sidewalk width, space for pedestrians, and space between any neighboring patios. More details can be found in the 2024 outdoor dining program application guide

In 2023, due to reasons including the North End’s high density of restaurants and foot traffic, narrow streets and sidewalks, resident parking scarcity, and other related considerations, the City issued permits in the neighborhood for compliant sidewalk patios, but did not issue permits for on-street outdoor dining. In 2024, the City intends to continue those policies in the North End and may craft additional neighborhood-specific guidelines as the program advances.

“The city’s outdoor dining program was an invaluable lifeline to us during the pandemic that continues to be immensely helpful to our business and positively received by our guests,” said Jefferson Macklin, a partner and business manager of Traveler Street Hospitality, which oversees multiple locations in the South End. “We look forward to continuing with the program as a critical component of our business - hopefully for many years to come.”

Closing hours for outdoor dining are 9:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday (with patrons off the premises by 10:00 p.m.); and 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (with patrons off the premises by 11:00 p.m.). The 2024 outdoor dining season will run through October 31.

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