By Tiffany Chan

BOSTON (CBS) – Dining tables and chairs replaced parking spots along streets in Boston’s North End as the neighborhood joins the rest of the city in bringing back outdoor dining.

“Oh, it’s a great relief,” said Bricco Restaurant manager, Sergio Maffeo. “It’s something we’ve been waiting for a long time.”

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Crews spent the rainy morning setting up traffic barriers, even putting up umbrellas along Hanover Street.

For restaurant owners, expanding outdoor dining is a game changer and a lifeline for not only their staff, but for patrons.

At Carmelina’s, street dining means nearly doubling their capacity.

“We’ll go from 38 seats to 60, 62 seats, so all my service staff that made nothing during the pandemic, they’re able to recoup. All my kitchen staff, now that they have the hours they need to work,” said Damien DiPaola, owner of Carmelina’s.

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Despite the wind and chilly weather, North End resident Chris Hayes said he believes it’s a sign of better days ahead.

“I think it’s a little cloudy, a little overcast, but we’re all happy to be out here,” said Hayes. “Everybody wants to do their best and respect the CDC’s guidelines and everything, but at the same time we’re ready to get back to life.”

With more people getting vaccinated and restrictions slowly loosening up, restaurant owners are eager to serve more people.

“This is like people have tasted freedom for the first time in their lives after being locked down for a year,” DiPaola told WBZ-TV. “We’re providing something besides dining. We’re providing life for people and an opportunity to socialize.”

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Outdoor dining in the North End will extend to December 1, 2021, weather permitting.

Tiffany Chan