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Somerville Dining Patios Not Yet Open, Restaurants Wait For License Approval From City

SOMERVILLE (CBS) - Two days into approved outdoor dining statewide, the patio at Avenue in Somerville is empty. "I'm eager to get back to a little bit of normalcy," owner Kenny Schweizer told WBZ.

The restaurant just celebrated its one year anniversary, and - with construction closing the bridge to access the restaurant and a global pandemic - it's been quite a year. He's hoping to open his patio on Wednesday night, the earliest possible time given by the city.

Despite Governor Baker giving the green light for already existing patios to reopen Monday, the city of Somerville took it a step further, requiring owners to resubmit a patio plan to amend their license and prove they can safely operate in the age of COVID-19.

Outdoor dining
Patio seating at Avenue in Somerville (WBZ-TV)

In a letter to restaurant owners, the city's Director of Economic Development, Thomas Galligani, wrote, "The Licensing Commission has scheduled a meeting this Wednesday at 1 pm, during which they will vote to allow the existing license holders to open under the new COVID-19 rules. If they pass this (I've been assured that they will), some may be able to open as soon as Wednesday evening."

As for restaurants hoping to create makeshift patios, approval could come as early as Friday.

Mike's Food and Spirits in Somerville (WBZ-TV)

"So Somerville is taking a little more cautious approach to reopen," said Jess Willis, a restaurant owner who is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. She told WBZ that 41 restaurants have outdoor dining licenses in the city and will need to be re-approved to reopen.

Avenue owner Kenny Schweizer told WBZ he is understanding of the overly cautious delay, and that a few days more won't destroy business - despite limited business for the last three months. "I mean we are eager to open, we want to open," he said. "My phone has been going crazy with people wanting reservations for the patio."


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