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News Retailing And Restaurants Sussex County

Rehoboth, Dewey extend outdoor dining regs

Katie Tabeling

REHOBOTH BEACH — Two beach towns have decided to retain outdoor dining at restaurants this summer, and at least one town has passed a local law to continue it on a permanent basis.

The Rehoboth Beach City Commissioners voted in mid-March to create a permit system for restaurants hoping to continue outdoor dining on public property. Restaurants with 15 feet or less between the front door and the curb will be able to serve on the public sidewalk, but only in front of the business.

The application for outdoor dining is $150, which covers the site review. If approved, the permit costs $163.

Seating areas must be more than 5 feet to the left and right of the entrance and not exceed 8 feet from the building itself. In that space, the restaurants must include 3 feet for a “service aisle.” Another 3 feet must be allotted from the tables for a pedestrian walkway.

Tables that seat two or four people can be used in front of restaurants, if the permit is granted, but tables must be no bigger than 4 feet wide.

In previous meetings, the process did get pushback from both some members of the commission and the public. For example, the total outdoor service space under the current proposal would max out at 750 square feet per restaurant. This means any restaurant that already has a patio would have to deduct its patio space before planning to add sidewalk dining. 

Those restaurants on narrower sidewalks, like Wilmington and Baltimore avenues, may not be able to maximize the option. The Rehoboth Beach city manager has the right to suspend a restaurant’s permitted outdoor dining due to violations, or events and utility work.

Meanwhile, the Dewey Beach commissioners agreed to also pause an order that would have expired at the end of March that would end outdoor dining. Much like Rehoboth Beach and other towns across the state, Dewey Beach relaxed zoning regulations to allow restaurants to boost occupancy rates during the pandemic.

Outdoor dining in Dewey Beach may continue until Oct. 31.

The Cape Gazette reports that Dewey Beach officials may potentially review the code to update regulations and relieve some of the red tape for restaurants to add outdoor dining.

Tony Russo contributed to this report.


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