WESTBROOK — Restaurants can serve diners next week under the state’s reopening guidelines, and some local eateries will be serving al fresco under a new city program that allows them to move their business outdoors.

Restaurants, shuttered to on-site dining since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, are allowed to reopen statewide on Monday, June 1, for outdoor dining only. Inside dining was supposed to be allowed, too, but Gov. Janet Mills postponed dine-in service Wednesday in Cumberland, York and Androscoggin counties because of the rising number of new coronavirus cases.

When dine-in service is allowed, the maximum capacity will be 50 people per establishment with safety protocols in place, including maintaining a 6-foot distance between customers.

Westbrook is allowing restaurants to serve customers at tables outside so they can more easily adhere to social distancing requirements. Restaurant owners on private property can expand outdoor seating to up to 50% of their parking area. Those abutting public property can use portions of sidewalks and parking lots.

Restaurants must send their expanded outdoor seating plans to the city for approval. If an establishment needs an additional liquor licenses for the outdoor seating, the city will help expedite that.

“It’s about being proactive. We won’t be shutting down streets really, but our restaurants who’ve been shuttered will be able to start recuperating,” said Economic Development Director Dan Stevenson.

In the few weeks since the program started, four restaurants have applied to use additional outdoor space: Legends Rest Taproom, The Frog and Turtle, Fajita Grill and Big Fin Poké, all downtown.

Starting Tuesday, June 2, Legends Rest Taproom will double the space it had previously been permitted to use on the River Walk for tables and seating from four to eight tables. Tom Minervino, co-owner of Legends Rest Taproom, said he hopes that will recoup some of the losses from the “huge hit” the eatery and bar suffered during the shutdown.

“We got through the winter, and February and March is when things really start looking up with St. Patricks Day, which was canceled for all intents and purposes,” Minervino said.

Legends Rest lost a quarter of its yearly revenue during the closure, he estimates and, looking forward, summer business is an “unknown.”

The city has been great to work with. We’ve submitted a plan and within a day they got it approved,” Minervino said.

Frog and Turtle will reopen to diners on Wednesday, June 3, and will provide table service on the Vallee Square sidewalk under the new program, in addition to making use of its new outdoor deck.

“We are pushing a lot more outside dining,” said James Tranchemontagne said, co-owner and chef. “Using our deck and the sidewalk, we can easily accommodate 25 people. Our goal is to start off small and see what the comfort level of the guests are.”

Legends Rest will keep their bar seating closed because the area is small, but the bar will be functional, while the Frog and Turtle is working on a socially distanced seating arrangement at their bar.

Stevenson worked with the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations to get the extra liquor licenses required for outdoor seating expedited, to avoid having restaurants wait for approval in June.

“It avoids having restaurants all scrambling last minute,” Stevenson said.

“As this goes I think we will see a lot more restaurants and businesses tune into the program,” he said.

The city won’t charge for the additional licenses, he said.

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