Over the past few months, Winthrop residents and business owners have learned to get creative. Winthrop Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Betsy Shane, has witnessed firsthand just how innovative the town’s restaurant owners have had to be to accommodate outdoor seating for customers.
Prior to the governor’s approval of phase two, step one on June 6th Shane collaborated with the town council, the licensing board and restaurant owners to ensure a seamless transition for outdoor dining.
In mid-May, Shane learned that this phase of the reopening would include outdoor seating, and she immediately started working with food establishments to come up with a plan that would incorporate health, safety and social distancing under the umbrella of the government guidelines.
“One of the positive outcomes of all of this is that restaurant owners have had a chance to reimagine what their place could look like,” said Shane, who worked closely with the owners of La Siesta, Belle Isle Seafood, and JW’s.
Shane conducted site visits to ensure that both town and government guidelines were being followed. Some restaurant owners had to gain approval from the Board of Licensing for serving liquor outside of the restaurant’s current footprint and some needed to gain approval from the town for seating that was expanded onto the sidewalk.
La Siesta expanded so the seating area spills out into the driveway behind the indoor section of the restaurant and allows for a more spread out area off the patio. Access to the area is all outside, along the building or by the Hagman Road Extension. Rosetti’s has purchased approved water-filled barriers that will protect people sitting outside the restaurant surrounding their newly created outdoor seating section. JW’s outdoor seating has magnified, running along the front of the restaurant, down to the post office. With all restaurants combined there are 130 additional tables approved for outdoor seating.
“Everyone is looking at safety and health protocols and we had to work fast, because we got the okay on June 6th for restaurants to open up for outdoor seating on June 8th. Every day counts for restaurants and moving quickly gave them a fighting chance. There are many businesses in the state that have had to close and I don’t want any businesses in Winthrop to have to close because of this. Thanks to the board of licensing, the town council, the town manager, the Speaker of the House and all the departments involved for the nonstop support.”