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Outdoor dining on Moody Street in Waltham to look different with no traffic restrictions

Outdoor dining returns to Moody Street in Waltham but it won't be pedestrian only
Outdoor dining returns to Moody Street in Waltham but it won't be pedestrian only 01:59

WALTHAM - Outdoor dining is returning to Moody Street in Waltham this year but the street won't be closed to traffic, leaving business owners in the area divided.

It's hard to believe, but warmer days are coming and outdoor dining along Moody Street will look a bit different this summer.

"I think we're going to have outdoor dining, I think it's going to be restricted," said Bistro 781 owner, Jeff Abellard.

Moody Street to remain open to traffic this year

Restaurants can still seat patrons where cars typically park, but Moody Street won't be closed to traffic. The open streets concept was a big draw – bringing in crowds during the height of the pandemic.

"Being able to come out, see people, walk around, see our community – that was great," Abellard reflected.

The City of Waltham is scaling back after hearing from frustrated residents about the parking.

"I can't get parking because all the customers come park over there," said Sarfaraj Kapadia.

And complaints from mom-and-pop businesses who felt drowned out by the restaurants.

"All the other businesses are getting lost. Convenience store, the salon, mattress store or Family Dollar – everything," Kapadia said.

But many restaurants argue that without the closure of Moody Street, outdoor dining loses its allure.

"We've seen the big picture; we've seen the grand slam – that was amazing," Abellard said.

Proposal to bring open streets back once a month in summer

Waltham City Councilor Colleen Bradley-MacArthur told WBZ-TV, "When it is closed off to cars, there is that community vibe that you can't replace when it's open to traffic."

She's trying to bring back the open streets concept once a month in the summer, but the idea is being met with resistance.

"We will fight it, all 75 people, small business owners, we will fight it," said salon owner Harish Chawla.

Moody Street restaurant owners who've spent a fortune on outdoor dining said they're looking for consistency – and so are their patrons.

"I say we have to do it or we don't," Abellard suggested. "Either we go with it full tilt or not do it."

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