Hamilton to set up outdoor dining areas

  • Nice spot to eat: sisters Jessica Thompson and Leah Thompson walk through the new outside lunch area at City Hall (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Nice spot to eat: sisters Jessica Thompson and Leah Thompson walk through the new outside lunch area at City Hall (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Hamilton will open more areas of the city to outdoor dining from today to help restaurants get their businesses up and running again.

The initiative is the result of collaboration between the City of Hamilton and Government, industry and regulatory bodies.

It is hoped that new al fresco dining areas can also be set up in the Town of St George and Dockyard, as the Corporation of St George and West End Development Corporation have also been involved in the talks.

During Phase 2 of the reopening of the island after lockdown, restaurants have been allowed to serve customers outdoors, but only if they had existing al fresco dining areas. Physical-distancing requirements have further limited the number of customers.

Areas opened for diners will include sections of parking lanes and sidewalks and some roads will be closed to traffic at times to allow restaurants to cater to more diners, the City of Hamilton said yesterday.

Philip Barnett, director of the Island Restaurant Group, whose eateries include the Pickled Onion, the Barracuda Grill and the Hog Penny, represented the Chamber of Commerce’s restaurant division in the talks and was delighted by the can-do spirit.

“People sometimes say there is a culture of ‘no’ in Bermuda, but this was one of the most unbelievably refreshing committees I have ever sat on,” he said. “There was a culture of ‘yes’.”

In the space of two weeks, multiple parties worked together to make it happen, he said.

The talks involved the City of Hamilton, in collaboration with the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce and their member restaurants, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, the departments of health and planning, the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the Bermuda Police Service, the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service and the Liquor Licensing Authority.

Mr Barnett said dining areas would be set up close to two of his group’s Hamilton businesses, creating opportunities to serve more customers.

He was aware that the Chatterbox Café on Reid Street was already taking advantage of the opportunity to set up tables on the sidewalk. Other eateries would most likely follow next week, Mr Barnett said.

Customers and employees alike were “desperately looking forward” to restaurants serving diners once more, he added.

Mr Barnett said that in Dockyard, approval was being sought for most of the area from the entrance gates inward to become an al fresco dining area.

“There’s only one entrance and one exit, so it’s easily secured,” he added.

The city has already created a dining area on the front lawn of City Hall, designated for people to meet with takeout meals, while other sites earmarked for the same purpose are Gordon’s Green, at the corner of Court Street and Dundonald Street, and certain areas along the waterfront.

Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, said Hamilton’s businesses were the lifeblood of the city.

“We cannot wait until we are 100 per cent comfortable before continuing our participation in this new world,” Mr Gosling said. “We have to decide what level of discomfort we are comfortable with and proceed.

“This can be done smartly, and I believe this initiative can be a good exploratory step to finding that balance.”

Dwayne Caines, the city’s chief operating officer, said: “We are looking to change the face of al fresco dining in the city, to increase it in certain areas while restaurants are still shuttered to dine-in customers.”

Mr Caines added that the City hoped the move would “create an enlightened element in the City that will draw more people into Hamilton, something that is much needed at this crucial time”.

Only in Phase 4 are restaurants scheduled to be allowed to welcome dine-in customers again.

Erica Smith, executive director of the BEDC said: “Al fresco dining is one way that we can encourage the community to shop and eat locally, especially in North East Hamilton where there is some of the most delicious food representing a variety of cultures, like Bermudian, Indian, Jamaican, Asian, American and traditional soul food, to name a few.

“Some of these businesses have never participated in al fresco dining so working together to get them involved will be a win for the business, the community and Bermudians in general.”

Tashae Thompson, assistant director, experience development at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said: “Expanding food-and-beverage options outdoors is a strategy that not only helps the hospitality industry right away, but also offers legacy benefits for future visitors and our whole community.”

Hamilton eateries wishing to participate in the al fresco initiative should contact the city engineer at pcooper@cityhall.bm or call 292-1234, extension 230 for further information and to make initial application

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Published Jun 6, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 6, 2020 at 8:01 am)

Hamilton to set up outdoor dining areas

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