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North End Restaurant Owners Plan To Sue Over Outdoor Dining Fees

BOSTON (CBS) - North End restaurant owners say they feel singled out and discriminated against by the city. They met behind closed doors with a lawyer with plans to sue Boston Mayor Michelle Wu over her proposed outdoor dining fees.

"She's coming after us and we're going to fight back," said Frank Mendoza, owner of Monica's Trattoria.

Not going down without a fight, North End restaurant owners are banding together and possibly suing the city of Boston after being slapped with a $7500 fee for outdoor dining this season.

"We're going to sue her," Mendoza said. "This is plain and simple discrimination."

Mendoza and owners of other Italian establishments say they are the only neighborhood in the city that has to pay in order to expand seating onto street parking. The outdoor dining program is scheduled to begin May 1.

"Would you like to be singled out to pay a fee that is not the same fee that anybody else is paying?" Mendoza said.

Boston attorney Lenny Kesten said it is hard to prove discrimination. "The North End is unique in the architecture and the setup," Kesten said. "When you go to those restaurants which I love to do, can't wait to go back, you're sitting on the street. In most of the other neighborhoods you're not."

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu says the North End has different challenges compared to areas like the Back Bay, East Boston or Charlestown.

"It is the densest concentration of restaurants anywhere in the state. So, when our residents and neighbors and restaurants are all packed together, we need a different solution for this neighborhood," Wu said.

Solutions for the limited parking and trash, she explained.

"We're going to pay the same thing everyone else pays," Mendoza said. "We're going to pay nothing."

Restaurant owners say if she doesn't reconsider the fee, they will see her in court and if there's no resolution by May 1, some owners say they might set up their tables anyway in protest.

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