A pilot program that requires owners of restaurants in downtown Montauk to obtain licenses if they want to put tables on the sidewalk right of way will be tested during this year’s spring and summer tourism season to prevent issues with overcrowding, safety and aesthetics.
The East Hampton Town Board passed a resolution approving the additions to the town code at its Dec. 15 meeting, but Montauk Chamber of Commerce president Paul Monte, a member of the business committee that helped draft the measures, said the requirements could be “tweaked” after this year depending on how things work out.
“Montauk’s a resort, so sidewalk dining is a nice thing — and everyone agrees it’s a nice thing,” said town planning director Marguerite Wolffsohn. “But the idea is to get regulations in place to make it safe.”
As part of the pilot, outdoor dining licenses will be valid from May 1 until the third Monday in October of each year, but will only be required for restaurants placing tables and chairs on public sidewalks, not on their own property.
Restaurants owners must apply to the town fire marshal for a license to add tables in the sidewalk right of way and provide a description and sketch of the outdoor dining area.
A certificate of insurance and indemnification must be obtained, and a fee of $30 must be paid per seat. Restaurants are allowed to move up to 20 percent of their approved indoor seating outside, but the limit in all cases is 16 seats.
Restaurants cannot have more tables or seats than permitted under local health and other regulations. The tables have to be placed directly in front of the restaurant, and a sidewalk area of at least 6 feet must remain unobstructed.
Outdoor tables are to be used for table service only, not for eating takeout or other foods not ordered from the restaurant’s menu.
Tables and chairs must be removed from the sidewalk every evening, and umbrellas and lighting are prohibited.
Wolffsohn said the new requirements take the aesthetics involved in sidewalk dining into consideration as well.
“We all love it, but there were too many,[restaurants with outdoor dining areas] or they were a mishmosh,” Wolffsohn said. “They didn’t always look good, and sometimes there were tables and chairs outside of businesses that had nothing to do with food.”
Wolffsohn said there are at least 10 restaurants in Montauk that feature sidewalk dining. Among them are the Shagwong restaurant, John’s Pancake House, The Point and Pizza Village.
“You want to make sure there’s plenty of room for the public to pass through and protect the public right of way,” said Monte, the Chamber of Commerce president.
Outdoor dining licenses will only be required for restaurants placing tables and chairs on public sidewalks, not their own property.
Licenses will be valid from May 1 until the third Monday in October of each year.
A certificate of insurance and indemnification must be obtained, and a fee of $30 must be paid per seat.
Restaurants are allowed to move up to 20 percent of their approved indoor seating outside, but the limit in all cases is 16 seats.