Outdoor dining in Boston gets an earlier start date

Patio season officially kicks off March 22, though North End restaurants will have to wait until April 1.

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Al fresco dining is coming back to Boston ahead of schedule.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Friday that the 2021 Outdoor Dining Pilot Program, originally scheduled to start on April 1, will now begin on March 22. One caveat: North End restaurants will still be required to wait until April 1 before debuting their outdoor patios.

“Outdoor dining was one of the bright spots last summer and fall, and we’ve seen the benefits it has had on our neighborhoods: supporting local businesses, a safe and enjoyable experience for restaurant patrons, and an added resource for Boston’s small businesses during this challenging time,” Walsh said in a statement. “I’m thrilled we are able to start this program even earlier, and I look forward to businesses and residents taking advantage of it.”


Walsh made the announcement in conjunction with the Boston Licensing Board and city departments. According to a news release, the decision to move up the start date was made in response to the weather, which has seen temperatures in the 60s and 70s this week, though the forecast is expected to cool down in the coming days.

Lesley Delaney Hawkins, Boston’s Licensing Board executive secretary, told The Boston Globe that the North End will have a different start date.

“Given the number and density of restaurants and the impacts to residents, the final plan for outdoor dining in the North End will begin on April 1,” she said.

Similar to last year’s program, the 2021 Outdoor Dining Pilot Program, which was initially announced in December, invites restaurants to apply for a temporary outdoor dining license space, giving them the ability to convert sidewalks and parking spaces into outdoor dining areas. The program will end on Dec. 1, 2021, weather permitting.

For some restaurants, patio season has already begun: Coppersmith and Dorchester Brewing Co. emerged from hibernation this month with their own patios, while restaurants like Alcove, Mare Oyster Bar, and Rochambeau have been inviting customers to dine on patios with space heaters, fire pits, and igloos in the colder months. Some spots are sticking to the original timeline: Keep an eye out for The Lexington, Bar Mezzana, Cunard Tavern, and others, which will all open their patios on April 1.


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