North End restaurant owners file lawsuit against Michelle Wu

The restaurateurs claim the mayor's outdoor dining fee is unconstitutional.

The owner of Terramia Ristorante and other North End restaurant owners have filed a lawsuit against Mayor Michelle Wu. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Four North End restaurant owners have filed a lawsuit against Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. They claim that the $7,500 outdoor dining fee imposed on restaurants in the neighborhood is unconstitutional, WCVB reports

The plaintiffs are Jorge Mendoza, owner of Vinoteca di Monica; Carla Gomes, owner of Terramia Ristorante and Antico Forno; Christian Silvestri, owner of Rabia’s Dolce Fumo; and Patrick Mendoza, owner of Monica’s Trattoria.

In March, city officials told North End restaurateurs that the fee would apply to owners that want to offer outside table service this year. The payments are necessary to address the impacts of Boston’s outdoor dining pilot program on the North End specifically, where narrow streets create traffic and parking problems for residents, officials said at the time. 

The funds collected will help offset issues like trash displacement, rodents, traffic jams and more, according to John Romano, the city’s deputy director for the Office of Neighborhood Services. 


The fee was not imposed on restaurants in other Boston neighborhoods. 

The plaintiffs also took issue with a policy that costs restaurants an additional $480 per month for every parking space they take up with outdoor tables, according to WCVB. 

The North End’s restaurant community has been vocally opposed to this fee, and several owners threatened to sue Wu in March. In response, Wu sent a letter to North End restaurant owners that the city was prepared to rescind outdoor dining in the area if most of the owners believed that the program wouldn’t work for them. 

Following the backlash, Wu said that the city will allow restaurants the ability to pay the fee in installments.

Restaurants will be able to tailor the fees to reflect their operating schedules, only paying for the time that they operate outdoor dining, instead of the entire season. 

Wu also said that a “hardship waiver process,” will be introduced to take into account factors on a case-by-case basis. These factors could include the restaurant’s location, patio size, and whether the restaurant owns a liquor license.

The plaintiffs believe Wu violated their rights to due process of law and equal protection and equal treatment, which are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, according to the lawsuit. It also claims that Wu’s actions violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and set up “unfair methods of competition” and/or are “unfair or deceptive practices” in “commerce.”


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