Outdoor dining returns to Rehoboth Beach this summer
Barriers return to Rehoboth Beach this summer to bring al fresco dining back to the town’s main street.
They might not be red this year, but the big barriers blocking off parking along Rehoboth Avenue will be back to give restaurants the chance to bring their dining space into the sunlight.
Mayor Stan Mills says the board of commissioners considered lots of outdoor dining options, including parklets, which are smaller extensions of the sidewalk into parking spaces to make room for seating.
But, he says, they decided if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“We actually abandoned that idea and thought that the program we used last year seemed to be efficient and worked well — all the restaurateurs liked it and especially and more importantly, the dining patrons liked it," Mills said. "So we said let’s mirror that program and replicate it for this coming summertime.”
Mills says the program was so popular, the city already plans to make sidewalk dining a regular feature every summer in Rehoboth Beach.
"Everybody agrees that outside dining is just fabulous, it’s wonderful — the restaurants, the stores. It's wonderful for the dining patrons and it’s just, visually it’s a nice aesthetic to see people enjoying themselves outside,” Mills said.
He adds the al fresco dining experience may be different after COVID-19, since the city needs to account for normal levels of foot traffic and visitors.
Mills says they’ve already received as many applications for outdoor seating as last year — some new, some old. Applications are due on March 1st.
Once the applications close, the city can then figure out where the barriers will need to go to allow space for the tables and chairs.
Mills adds the city is also bringing back free parking on Monday evenings throughout the summer, which proved popular last year. Both programs will begin in early April.
Roman Battaglia a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.