BELFAST, Maine — Outdoor dining quickly became a necessity last summer for Maine restaurants to remain open because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it's a popular trend that's here to stay in some Maine communities.
Belfast city councilors voted to make the Curbside Belfast program a permanent fixture to their downtown streets.
"[The program] allows businesses to spill out into the parking spaces," explains Belfast City Councilor Brenda Bonneville. “There’s plenty of parking, but not plenty of opportunities for the restaurants to be able to stay afloat.”
The Curbside Belfast program started last summer with 13 businesses participating. Bonneville says some restaurants wouldn't have survived without it. This summer, six restaurants are taking part in the program.
“None of the businesses have closed since [the program started],” adds Bonneville. "Belfast didn't have it before and... the goal going forward is, kind of, to continue it for as long as possible and perhaps as the weather gets colder."
Curbside Belfast has been a lifeline for Anthony Jacovino who co-owns, Delvino’s.
“We've had a really good response from people walking by, checking it out, either dining or just passing by," shares Jacovino. "Everyone seems to be receptive to it.”
The city of Bangor is also allowing businesses to continue offering outdoor seating. City councilors voted to allow existing outdoor seating and the partial closure of Broad Street to remain. This new order will lapse on Nov. 1, 2021.
“I think they [businesses] appreciated it last year and I think they'll evaluate and see if they need it as a part of their business model going forward,” Bangor City Council Chair Dan Tremble tells NEWS CENTER Maine.
On July 19, Portland city councilors will take a look at their own outdoor dining rules. According to a spokesperson for the city of Portland, councilors will look at removing the city's emergency proclamation and keeping rules in place to allow outdoor dining to continue.