NJ outdoor dining ‘can happen sooner’ than June 15, association insists
Until outdoor dining is actually underway in New Jersey, the Garden State will be losing this business to neighboring states, according to the association that represents the state's restaurant industry.
Gov. Phil Murphy told residents on Monday that outdoor dining, in some capacity, will be permitted starting June 15. But the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association wants that date bumped to June 12.
"Obviously, we're happy that something's finally happening. However, we do feel that outdoor dining certainly can happen sooner than June 15," Marilou Halvorsen, association president and CEO, told New Jersey 101.5. "Because then we don't lose a whole other weekend."
Halvorsen noted outdoor dining will be permitted in Pennsylvania on June 5, and both indoor and outdoor seating are already available for customers in Delaware.
"The New Jersey counties that border Delaware and Pennsylvania are just going to be losing customers across the bridge," Halvorsen said.
Restaurants in New Jersey are still awaiting guidance from the state as to how the relaunch of outdoor dining would work — in terms of capacity, spacing and disinfection of surfaces and items. The NJRHA has submitted "temporary outdoor seating guidelines" to the Governor's Office. Recommendations include that tables be no closer than six feet apart, and that tables be limited to eight individuals.
Michael Federici, owner of Federici's Family Restaurant in Freehold, is hoping to acquire additional outdoor space next door in order to successfully spread out his 15 tables for al fresco dining. He also said some type of "tenting" would be necessary so that a rainy day doesn't completely evaporate business.
"I think the demand is going to be incredible for the little bit of space that we have out there," Federici said. "We could actually do alright and start making back some of this profit that we lost the last two-and-a-half to three months."
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.