In an effort to make outdoor dining more feasible for its resident eateries, the borough council in Metuchen passed a resolution last week to allow businesses to apply to convert curbside parking and sidewalk space into outdoor dining space.
The resolution applies to retailers as well, encouraging them to utilize the area in front of their stores for merchandise displays.
From 4 p.m. Fridays through 11 p.m. Sundays, New Street between Main Street and Pearl Street will be closed to allow for Main Street businesses to expand into the roadway; and several parking lots will be reconfigured to create additional space for restaurants. The resolution also gives a mechanism for businesses to request the conversion of on-street parking spaces to parklets, similar to those in Jersey City, to allow for more dining and retail opportunities without cutting into sidewalk space required to 6 feet wide per ADA guidelines.
Downtown businesses across the state have been hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions, starting with occupancy limits and swiftly moving to an all-out ban of indoor dining and “non-essential” retail on March 21 as the state battled the virus. Metuchen’s resolution was passed ahead of Gov. Murphy’s Monday announcement that outdoor dining would be permitted come June 15. When indoor dining does open, limited capacity to obey social distancing requirements is widely anticipated.
“To attempt to make up for some of the lost space, this resolution makes it easier for Metuchen businesses to expand outdoors,” said Metuchen Councilman Jason Delia on Twitter.
“The borough will start working with businesses on their expansion plans right away,” Delia tweeted.