SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Dining outside has been the name of the game when it comes to restaurants in the pandemic. Saratoga restaurants were approved last year for extended outdoor dining. The status of those barriers is now uncertain.
Many Saratoga restaurant owners have transformed their public sidewalks and on-street parking spaces to outdoor oases. They wanted to accommodate their customers with a comfortable and functional outdoor space.
“The only bright light in all of this is that we have had this space that can help us out a little bit and bring us back to normal,” said Ryan McFadden, owner of Henry Street Taproom and Flatbread Social.
Many Saratoga restaurants were informed that the city of Saratoga and the state have plans to remove the concrete barriers from all Saratoga streets as soon as Thursday. McFadden says has worked tirelessly to define this space.
“Yes scary is one way to put it, this would be a disaster if this got taken from us,” said he.
Todd Shimkus the president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce says the barriers were put up by the Chamber of Commerce and Discover Saratoga. He says this was a way to help pull the city through COVID-19 restrictions.
“We have no intention of removing them until we are told to do so. As far as we’re concerned they are staying up. They will still be there tomorrow and also they are really heavy to move,” said Shimkus.
McFadden says they have spent thousands of dollars on furnishings, decor, and plantings to beautify the city’s streets. They have hired and trained additional staff.
“We have put up structures to make people want to come out, sit in the street, and enjoy themselves. If it were to go away, it would be devastating more ways than one,” said he.
He says the consequences of removing the barriers would be canceling reservations, and scaling back on staff members.
Shimkus says the city nor the state has a made a decision on it just yet. But he believes the barriers are here to stay.
“If the state says it’s okay to keep them, then the city is going to say the same thing. They will be up hopefully through the end of October,” said he.
“The expanded outdoor dining has been a lifeline for our restaurants throughout the pandemic and the public safety department is committed to keeping the expanded seating in place as long as needed in conjunction with SLA / NYS guidance.”SARATOGA SPRINGS PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSIONER ROBIN DALTON