REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - During the pandemic, outdoor dining became popular, and due to it's success, many areas, like Rehoboth Beach, decided to continue the option. Rehoboth Beach requires restaurants who want to participate in outdoor dining to acquire an outdoor dining license.
Anthony Baray, who is the assistant manager at Arenas in Rehoboth Beach, says outdoor dining has been incredibly beneficial to the area.
"It jumped up our business tremendously, just to be able to offer that dining, and I know there's a bunch of restaurants that are small so they are limited to the amount of people they are able to accommodate, so when they were able to put out even three more tables sometimes, it's nice for servers to make more money and for revenue coming in," explained Baray.
The city says it is looking for more ways to ensure outdoor dining is safe for everyone, but especially pedestrians. The city says it wants to make sure there is enough sidewalk for people to walk on with outdoor dining set up. The city is looking to require more space between tables and chairs for corner restaurants. Currently there is a three foot regulation, and commissioners are talking about requiring seven feet of clearance from the end of the curb.
Another rule up for consideration is requiring restaurants who apply for an outdoor dining license to not only show how far out onto the sidewalk seating will extend, but include the floor plan, nearby trees, benches, newspapers stands, etc... so commissioners can clearly evaluate the space.
Patrick McSweeney, who frequently visits Rehoboth Beach, is in favor of outdoor dining, but believes keeping pedestrians safe is most important.
"So during COVID, people had to sit outside and then they put up the barriers, which I thought was a great idea because it allowed people to still walk, I mean it restricted parking, but it made it more pedestrian friendly I thought," said McSweeney.
City commissioners will discuss the possible regulations on Monday, February 5th.