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Woods Hill Pier 4
September 29, 2020
Boston Winter Outdoor Dining: What We Know So Far
What outdoor dining looks like as the temperatures start to plunge.
Written by

A great show with a mediocre ending once reminded us that winter is (always) coming. And while Boston restaurants have spent the past three months focusing on all the new rules for indoor and outdoor dining, they now have to think about how they’re going to handle the cold weather.

Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh recently announced that restaurants could use sidewalks and streets for outdoor dining space until December 1. But since we all know there could be approximately 15 snow storms between now and then, you’ll want to know if dining outside is even feasible as the temperatures drop. Here’s all the information we have so far.

What You Need To Know

So, what exactly does the outdoor dining extension do?

In the spring, due to COVID-19, the state granted restaurants without patios the ability to offer al fresco dining on sidewalks and streets. This provision was scheduled to expire on October 1, but has now been extended until December 1.

Great, but how are restaurants going to keep diners warm?

As part of the extension, the government has also decided to waive application fees for the use of propane heaters, so you can expect to see quite a few more of those around in the next few months. Some restaurants, like Terra and Bambara, are also offering blankets to guests.

What about those igloo things?

Woods Hill Pier 4 will have 12 igloos available, each of which can fit six people. But we’re not sure how many spots will have these, especially since they cost around $1,700 each.

What about restaurants that can’t rely on winter outdoor dining?

A lot of restaurants are pivoting at the moment to try to generate more revenue. For example, Revival Cafe and Cafe du Pays are both selling groceries. Brato has a new bakery and pantry. And Puritan & Co. now has a walk-up sandwich counter that’s open all day. We expect to see even more of these changes as the weeks go by.

How can I support restaurants at this time?

Both takeout and delivery are still an option, and we’ve got the ultimate directory for that exact purpose. Try to order directly from the restaurant if you can - it helps them avoid the costly app fees. A number of spots are also selling merch, so you can represent your favorite coffee shop and keep warm with one of their beanies at the same time. And there’s still time to support the Restaurants Act, and to register to vote.

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