North End restaurants united against outdoor dining fee, threatening lawsuit

BOSTON — Coming together as a united front, restaurant owners in Boston’s North End are taking a stand against the city’s new outdoor dining program.

“In the city of Boston there are 1100 restaurants, our mayor is targeting 100,” said George Mendoza, owner of Vinoteca di Monica.

The city is now requiring restaurants in the North End to pay a $7,500 fee to open up outdoor dining this year and they can’t open those patios until May 1.

Restaurants in other neighborhoods of the city can open outdoor dining in April and don’t have to pay that fee.

“You can’t discriminate against a certain group of people,” said Frank Mendoza, owner of Monica’s Trattoria. “We spoke to an attorney upstairs through Zoom, we have a good case against us, we are going to open up for outside seating – we’re going to pay like everybody else pays – okay – zero.”

Some of these owners say they’ll sue the city over this if they have to, and they wrote a letter to the mayor Wednesday voicing their frustration.

“These are a lot of family businesses, people who cannot afford this, people who have had great losses, economic loss, psychological, family members passed away during covid and this is nothing but unjust,” said George Mendoza.

A city spokesperson released this statement Wednesday:

“The North End has the densest concentration of restaurants anywhere in the state, which makes it a treasure for our city welcoming Bostonians and visitors alike. This also means the impacts of outdoor dining are uniquely concentrated for residents of this neighborhood. Over the last two years, we have seen the vibrancy and economic activity that North End outdoor dining can bring, along with the need for significantly greater mitigation for street cleaning, traffic enforcement, and public safety. This program was created with community input, including several public meetings where restaurant owners and residents had the opportunity to share feedback.”

“This is ridiculous and you all know it,” said Robert Regnetta, owner of Ristorante Euno. “This 7500 dollar fee singling out the community and not to be redundant what everybody’s talking about but this is the heartbeat of Boston.”

A city spokesperson says the deadline is April 10 for these North End restaurants to pay this new outdoor dining fee, and if they don’t, they can’t participate in the outdoor dining program.

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