North End restaurants facing $7,500 fee for outdoor dining

NORTH END — North End restaurant owners say the city is targeting them with a new outdoor dining fee.

“This is the North End. We’re the target,” said Claudia Spagnuolo who has owned La Familia Spagnuolo

“I think it’s a little unfair due to everything that’s been going on in the world with COVID,” said  Patrick O’Malley who is the manager Bricco Ristorante on Hanover Street.

Restaurant owners say they must pay up or cannot take part and it’s got them steaming.

“Outrageous, outrageous,” said Spagnuolo.

The concern is that restaurants that want outdoor dining must fork over $7,500 dollars to the city.

But that only applies in the North End. Other neighborhoods have outdoor dining and take up parking spaces but are not being charged that fee.

And while some North End residents oppose outdoor dining because of the noise and traffic, many support it.

“I love it. I love it and I think they should do it,” said Joanne Romano who lives in the North End.

A city spokesperson tells Boston 25 that the changes were made after feedback from the community. In statement they say in part:

“These changes include the May 1 start date and a $7500 fee for restaurants that choose to participate in the program.” City of Boston Spokesperson.

May 1st is later than other city neighborhoods that start April 1st. North End restaurant owners say it’s unfair.

“It’s so Outrageous it’s a lot of money. We’re struggling to make a living after COVID and now we have this,” said Spagnuolo.

They say if they get charged so should other neighborhoods.

“We just feel like they should be a common goal for all neighborhoods throughout the city of Boston,” said O’Malley

Mayor Michelle Wu issued the following statement, Friday:

Over the last two summers, we’ve seen outdoor dining help support our small businesses citywide while also activating public spaces for residents and visitors across the City. The North End is home to the densest concentration of restaurants anywhere in the state, and we are grateful to our restaurant owners’ vital role in our larger economy and community. This is also a neighborhood home to residents who deserve clean and safe streets. This program, proposed after significant community feedback, will help the City offer the delights of outdoor dining in support of businesses while also mitigating the unique impacts that outdoor dining has on this neighborhood.

—  Boston Mayor Michelle Wu

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