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North End patio dining is a day-to-day nightmare

Despite light rain, customers filled up outdoor seating at restaurants along Salem Street in the North End on July 11.Christiana Botic for The Boston Globe

I want to invite Kathleen Joyce, head of the Boston Licensing Board, and other city officials who do not reside in the North End to come and live here for a week before they make any decisions about outdoor dining for next year (“Fed up with outdoor dining,” Metro, July 28). North End residents are more than fed up. The rules that govern outdoor dining do not work for all neighborhoods. The article does not mention issues of safety, sanitation, and licensing that are a consequence of outdoor dining.

On any given day, Hanover Street is clogged with delivery trucks, double-parked cars picking up food deliveries, and visitors pulling over to grab a “quick” cannoli or coffee. This blocks the way for emergency vehicles. At night, the sidewalks are clogged with visitors waiting to eat at one of the restaurants and waitstaff trying to maneuver through them to serve patrons on the patio. Residents can’t walk on the sidewalks. It’s almost impossible for wheelchairs to access any of the patio seating.


Sanitation workers need to hurl garbage bags over the tables, chairs, and enormous planters to collect trash. Parking is a nightmare, and the city hasn’t stopped giving out tickets and towing and observing street sweeping days.

If Joyce wants to continue to have patio dining in 2022, then restaurants should be required to change their licenses to reflect the capacity of both indoor and outdoor seating. They should have to update their bathroom and kitchen facilities to accommodate larger numbers.

Better yet, eliminate it for next year. Outdoor dining served its purpose last year when no one ate inside, and this year could be a bonus for restaurants. North End residents have been accommodating to business owners. We have been understanding of their plight. It is our turn to be accommodated.


Jodi Piazza

North End