Outdoor dining at Malt on Broadway during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo via Malt on Broadway's Facebook Page

Did you enjoy dining outside last summer? Well, you can count on it again, at least for this year. 

Newport’s City Council is developing an ordinance that will establish guidelines for restaurants that want to offer outdoor dining. But it doesn’t come without some pushback. According to Mayor Jeanne Marie Napolitano, some restaurants on Thames Street are upset they aren’t included in the conversation.

“Thames Street is just too narrow,” Napolitano said. “It has to be the right place, obviously Broadway.”

Will it be permanent? “They are there now,” the mayor said. “They can do it now. For now, it’s for this season. I don’t know about the permanency.”

It won’t come free though. Napllitano said the city, in writing the ordinance, is also developing a fee schedule for restaurants that will offset the lost revenue from paid parking spaces.

Additionally, she said, guidelines are being developed that will make sites more attractive and keep them flexible enough that they can quickly be removed and stored in the event of severe weather. “We hope the ordinance includes portable landscaping, umbrellas only (no tents), and uniformity,” Napolitano said

The council this week was unanimous in its support of the concept, sending it back to city officials to develop specific guidelines.

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