BOSTON (CBS) – At La Voile on Newbury Street, you would have thought you were looking at a scene from spring 2019. Every patio table was filled with a happy family or couple dining out, mask-free on the first day of outdoor dining in Massachusetts since mid-March when the state partially closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s amazing to have the patio open with beautiful weather,” said La Voile owner Jerome Bergere. “We couldn’t wait anymore.”
La Voile had a full slate of reservations on Monday night.
Down the road, the patio at Mother Anna’s in the North End was packed. “It feels so good,” Tim Bourne told WBZ as he dined with friends. “It feels so much more natural than the last three months.”
“We’ve just been in for too long,” his friend Meghan added. “As long as places are taking the proper precautions then it makes us feel a little better.”
The happy, relieving view of outdoor dining isn’t the reality for most Massachusetts restaurants, however – right now it’s only for ones that already had patios.
Governor Charlie Baker announced Saturday afternoon that restaurants would be allowed to reopen with outdoor dining only on Monday, giving restaurant owners one day to prepare — a Sunday. Restaurants without outdoor seating had to apply to their local licensing boards to get fast-tracked to seat people on makeshift patios.
“We were waiting on [the governor’s] yes or no,” Joco owner Jonathan O’Connor told WBZ. He says he’s excited to open for outdoor dining on Moody Street in Waltham, a new experience for his restaurant, but he needs to wait for his application to be approved. He’s hoping that happens by Wednesday.
Waltham’s Moody Street is closed to traffic to encourage restaurants to place tables on the sidewalk and street, but as of Monday, none had received the approval to do so or were ready with such little notice. “It’s kind of discouraging to see it so blah,” said lifelong Waltham resident Janice Aitchison. “This place is usually jumping.”
The same is true of the large majority of restaurants on Hanover Street in Boston’s North End. They have little to no outdoor seating, and the city hasn’t yet laid out a plan to allow them to expand their capacity outdoors.