NEWARK, NJ – Local bar and grill owners have reason to be optimistic about the potential for more business this summer after Newark Mayor Ras Baraka signed an executive order on Thursday that will allow restaurants to work longer and Allow “strEATERIES” and parklets.
The mayor’s order stipulates that indoor restaurants remain open until 2 a.m. and outdoor restaurants until midnight.
“It will definitely help because the last year and a half has been tough for everyone,” Miguel Casimiro, manager of Allegro Seafood Grill, told TAPinto Newark. “The chance to have more people here is really good for us.”
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The implementing regulation allows restaurants and restaurants to temporarily convert roadside parking spaces into a dedicated area for outdoor dining, where take-away food and beverages can be consumed. However, restaurant owners must apply for licenses to create “StrEATERIES”.
The regulation also requires customers to wear face covering at all times except when eating or drinking, in a room the person is alone, or among people who the person knows have been fully vaccinated.
The mandate also calls for large outdoor and indoor spaces to put a mandatory vaccination policy in place before users enter their buildings.
“As we continue to see a decline in COVID-19 positivity rates in Newark and an increase in vaccinated residents, it is important that our restaurants and businesses are given additional opportunities to stimulate the economy while maintaining the right structures to keep ours safe Residents, ”said Baraka. “We’re moving Newark forward safely, economically, and making this pandemic a time we can excel.”
The Mayor’s expansion for both outdoor and indoor dining comes just weeks after Governor Phil Murphy announced the state would relax capacity restrictions on restaurants and other businesses such as gyms, hairdressers and salons, and indoor entertainment and recreation businesses.
Marco Oliveira, owner of Adega Grill, said the recent relaxation of the rules under Baraka will certainly help his business by allowing more customers to dine in facilities for longer.
“By extending the hours it’s a plus,” said Oliveira. “Right now there are a lot of people who want to sit outside and a lot of people who want to sit inside so we can sit a lot more people, including at the bar.”
While some companies have been encouraged by the mayor’s decision, the effects of the pandemic are still weighing heavily on others.
During the pandemic, Newark faced some of the highest positive COVID cases and deaths in the state. The numbers have at times forced city officials to maintain some food restrictions, particularly opening times, while other nearby towns opened under the governor’s direction.
When the governor raised indoor capacity to 35% and meal times to 10 p.m. in February, Newark kept its curfew at 8 p.m.
During that time, Pour Abbey’s Bar & Grill Manager, Daniel Santos, said a majority of his employees had to work in nearby towns like Elizabeth and Harrison.
Santos is hoping for a turnaround.
“It will help us a lot because Newark is a nightlife city,” said Santos. “It is in those hours between noon and 2 or 3 o’clock on the weekend that we make the most money, which helps a lot.”