(ABOVE: Hoboken politicians huddle together for a photo op as Leo’s Grandevous reopens after COVID-19 lockdown.)
After sitting dormant for three months, Hoboken’s legendary hospitality scene returned this week to a significantly muted version of its former self. Starting Monday, the City authorized outdoor dining in existing cafés, as well as adaptive use of adjacent or public space for expanded seating.
As money slowly trickles back into this essential local industry for the first time in a quarter of a year, complaints have seemingly been flooding into City Hall on how business is being conducted.
“As Hoboken adapts to a new normal with expanded outdoor dining, our zoning office and Hoboken Police Department continue to work with our business community to keep everyone safe with new social distancing requirements,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla, in a statement. “One complaint we are receiving is that tables and chairs are not six feet apart at certain outdoor dining locations.”
Space is pretty tight as it is, and for an industry that survives based primarily on the volume of patrons it serves, efforts will be made to optimize any and all available options. In the opening stages of this new normal, there are bound to be some growing pains.
How is this considered being socially distant? I’m seeing this all over town too so it’s not an isolated incident. Really looks like we’re back to the old normal. pic.twitter.com/zvA96a5axb
— Tim Tatulli (@timtatulli) June 17, 2020
“With an outdoor expansion, restaurants should still allow for six feet of egress for pedestrians, and the paths should be straight and clear of obstruction,” said Bhalla. “I’m confident that over the next week, our residents and businesses together will adapt to the new rules and regulations to protect everyone’s safety.”
There are steps that patrons can take themselves, to avoid any confusion or compromising positions that might bring down scrutiny on their favorite establishment.
“We continue to encourage residents to call ahead to restaurants to book a reservation whenever possible, and if a restaurant does not offer reservations, to call before leaving to see if tables are available,” said Bhalla. “Another complaint we are receiving is that when waiting for tables, restaurants are allowing residents to wait indoors at the business. This is not permitted as per the State’s Executive Order. Anyone waiting for a table should remain outdoors and six feet from other people waiting and other diners.”
For those residents who are dissatisfied with the situation at area venues, the City recommends they email firstname.lastname@example.org regarding this and other similar issues. To report face mask violations at businesses, residents can continue to email email@example.com.
“Please also don’t forget to wear a face mask to and from the restaurant, and to use when going to the restroom at the restaurant, which is required,” said Bhalla.
Outdoor dining is permitted until 11:00 pm Sunday through Thursday, and until 12:00 am on Friday and Saturdays, according to Hoboken City ordinance.