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Serving Drinks on Sidewalks Another Step Closer in Bristol

The Bristol Town Council asks its solicitor to draft an amended outside dining ordinance that includes certain conditions for serving alcohol on public sidewalks.

The sidewalk in front of Roberto's on Hope Street. Credit: W.Rupp
The sidewalk in front of Roberto's on Hope Street. Credit: W.Rupp

Bristol is another step closer to allowing certain restaurants to serve drinks on public sidewalks.

The Town Council decided Wednesday night, Jan. 8, to draft an amendment to Bristol’s outside dining ordinance that includes certain conditions for serving alcohol on sidewalks. 

Town Councilor Halsey Herreshoff asked solicitor Mike Ursillo if an ordiance with conditions was possible.

“Conditions can be set as long as they are objective criteria,” said Ursillo.

The amendment with conditions is expected to be presented to the Town Council at its Feb. 12 meeting. 

Among the conditions will be the width of the sidewalk in front of a restaurant, the length of uninterrupted sidewalk, and the ratio of food to drink sales of any restaurant wanting to serve outside.

“We need to make sure the sidewalk is wide enough,” said Town Council President Mary Parella.

“Even if we want to okay this,” said Town Councilor Edward Stuart, “the setup of the street might be prohibitive.” 

The request for the amended ordinance came last month from Paul Mancieri of Leo’s Ristorante at 365 Hope St., which served food outside last year, and Robert Vanderhoof of Roberto’s at 450 Hope St. The Town Council continued the discussion until Wednesday night after getting some idea of the number of restaurants who might apply to sell alcohol outside.

Only a few of Bristol’s restaurants probably have sidewalks wide enought to set up tables for food and drinks outside, the Town Council determined. But it still has decided to go slow in dealing with what Stuart described as “a very delicate issue.” 

The councilors seemed to agree that they would only approve an outside dining amendment that allows restaurants to serve alcohol with food, not bars that serve some food with alcohol. 

Vanderhoof said he understands the need for criteria, and thinks that the amendment should include a ratio of food to drink sales. But he also said that “time is of the essence” because restaurants need a certain number of weeks to order tables and other outside seating supplies. 

“We want to do this by this summer,” he said. “We can’t just do this in a couple of weeks.”

Town Councilor Nathan Calouro then changed a motion he made for possible action on the amendment by the March meeting of the council to its Feb. 12 meeting. That was approved unanimously. 

“You need to understand, though,” said Parella, “that this might not be resolved by Feb. 12.”

Susan January 09, 2014 at 09:07 AM
Just do it Bristol! Sidewalk dining with alcoholic beverages is done all over the country, and especially in European towns. Let's catch up to the rest of the world and stop overthinking something so common everywhere else. This would be welcoming and inviting to our restaurants.

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