East Greenwich restaurant hopes to make alfresco dining permanent
EAST GREENWICH, RI (WPRI) – An East Greenwich restaurant is pushing to continue eating al fresco even after the state of emergency is over.
The Patio on Main opened in February 2020, just weeks before the start of the pandemic.
Since then, only take-out and alfresco dining has been offered in a tent set up in the parking lot.
Angel Winpeggy, owner of The Patio on Main, said that even during the winter their method worked and she worries the outdoor dining option will disappear once the state of emergency is lifted.
Governor Dan McKee previously extended the state of emergency until July 9.
A lawyer representing the owners plans to speak ahead of the East Greenwich Zoning Council meeting on Tuesday evening, in hopes of making tent meals permanent.
“If we got the zoning committee approval, what we would love to do is do a nice exterior renovation where you won’t feel like you’re eating in a parking lot anymore.” said Winpeggy.
She says they have no plans to use the interior space, as the makeshift outdoor facility has proven to be efficient and has double the capacity.
The council will have to take into account the impacts on surrounding businesses and residents, such as noise, traffic, parking, etc.
AT The patio on the main, they’re operating in a location that was never originally cleared for outdoor seating and that’s what Winpenny is trying to change through the zoning board.
She says it would also secure jobs.
“We are actually a very busy restaurant. We started with 15 employees, we are down to 50 now. Said Winpenny, “It would be really unfortunate for them to lose their jobs because we wouldn’t have such a big space for customers to come to dinner.”
East Greenwich Town manager Andrew Nota told News 12 that the local ordinance allowing alfresco dining, like what this establishment does, has expired. However, he notes that the authorities have not enforced it because the state may soon see changes at the legislative level.
A spokesperson for the Rhode Island House of Representatives said lawmakers in Smith Hill were close to approving a bill that would allow spaces, like the Patio parking lot, to continue to function as they did. ‘Al Fresco until at least 2022.
12 News reached out to members of the East Greenwich Zoning Council for more information, but had no response on Monday evening.
Winpenny said they expected to hear testimonials from dozens of community members and employees who support the potential zoning change.
the virtual zoning council meeting starts Tuesday June 22 at 7:00 p.m.