Spring brings hope of boost for restaurants with outdoor dining

SALEM, Mass. — With Saturday marking the start of spring and warmer weather on the horizon, many in the restaurant industry are hopeful outdoor dining will give them a much needed boost in business.

At Brodie’s Seaport, steps from Salem’s Pickering Wharf Waterfront, the outdoor patio currently has three picnic tables set up for a party of six each. But soon, staff will expand the seating.

“It’s going to be really nice,” said Brodie’s server Liz Levenson. “This has been one of the longest winters for all of us, I think.”

The coronavirus pandemic made for a tough year for the restaurant industry, sharply limiting indoor capacity and forcing some eateries to shut down altogether.

The coldest days – when even outdoor heaters cannot do the trick – have been especially hard.

“It’s been pretty tough at times,” Levenson said. “You don’t know exactly what you’re going to make every day. We have regulars that treat us amazing. We have our customers that just keep coming back. And they know our names we know their names. So it’s that sort of community that’s kept us afloat.”

Spring is said to be the season of new beginnings, and restaurant owners and staff and are counting on the warmer weather to turn business around.

“Once it warms up, it’s just going to be off the charts,” said Brodie’s server Jeanna Stamborsky. “We’re just looking forward to everyone coming back.”

Restaurants that do not already have established outdoor seating areas can open outdoor dining spaces, including parking lots and sidewalks, with approval from the city, on April 1. By Thursday, more than 35 restaurants had applied for those approvals, the city said.

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