Outdoor dining in Boston begins March 22, giving new hope to struggling restaurants

BOSTON — The sweet serenade of Francesco Graceffa – even while wearing a mask – comes with dinner at Dolce Vita in the North End.

Franco, as he likes to be called, is also singing for joy because outdoor dining is starting nearly two weeks early in Boston, on March 22. Previously, it was announced that Apr. 1 would be the kick off for outdoor dining, but mild weather forecasts led to an earlier start date.

“I think it’s a good idea... People are still afraid to come inside,” said Graceffa, who owns Dolce Vita.

The announcement arrived shortly before Boston plans to transition to Step 1 of Phase 4 with the rest of the Commonwealth on Monday, Mar. 22.

After a year of COVID, many restaurants have closed but all have suffered.

“We’ve been able to stay open with the help of the PPP and some of my own money too,” said Graceffa.

Just across Hanover Street at La Famiglia Spagnuolo, they don’t want to look back.

“It’s been a horrible year, horrible, horrible, horrible. I never saw anything like this in my life,” said Claudia Spagnuolo.

But spring, warm weather and outdoor dining bring new hope.

“Every little bit helps and the neighborhood now is ready,” said Spagnuolo.

And diners say they’re ready too.

“Sounds amazing! Can’t wait,” said Noelle Beyer, who was eating at Dolce Vita.

Other diners feel the same.

“We’re really looking forward to being able to enjoy our favorite places again as soon as we can,” said Max Maybury, who was getting takeout.

That news is something Franco is happy to hear as he belts out more serenades welcoming customers and looking forward to warmer and hopefully busier times this Spring.

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