By Dustin Luca
---- — Those looking to dine under the summer night sky will have more than twice as many options this season after the Board of Selectmen gave four establishments a green light to set up shop on downtown streets and sidewalks on Monday.
With seven eateries now targeting outdoor dining this year, an eighth one is still on the way.
While Main Street coffee shop Ultimate Perk got an extension of its prior outside dining license, three others got their first-ever go-aheads on Monday: Fisichelli’s Pastry Shop on Main Street, Brasserie 28 on the corner of Main Street and Post Office Avenue, and Yella Grille on Post Office Avenue.
Both Yella Grille and Brasserie 28 were seeking a modification of their liquor licenses to allow the serving of alcohol outside their respective restaurants. With Board of Selectmen approval, their requests now go before the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, according to Town Clerk Larry Murphy.
Ultimate Perk, Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant on Main Street and Palmer’s Restaurant on Elm Street have all offered outdoor dining in the past. Both Palmer’s and Bertucci’s offer seats outside on their private property.
While Murphy said he didn’t know “if ‘food court’ is the right term,” the newly expanded downtown dining options were all put under interdepartmental reviews and vetted by multiple agencies, including the Police and Fire departments.
One Thong Chai Thai Bistro, set to open next to Yella Grille later this year, is slated to come before the selectmen for a liquor license at a future meeting. Its license also includes a request for outdoor dining and reflects five four-seat tables on Post Office Avenue, according to owner Apple Tomamichel.
Brasserie 28 will be putting 60 seats outside its restaurant, with 32 on town-owned sidewalk space along Main Street and Elm Square, and 28 seats along a privately owned Post Office Avenue sidewalk, owner Matt Morello said.
The restaurant had to reduce its occupancy inside to allow for 60 additional seats outside without needing to install more restroom facilities, Morello said. Prior to adding outdoor seating, Brasserie 28 was already permitted for 135 occupants, between seated guests and those occupying standing room space.
“We only have about 75 seats total in the restaurant, but when you take the calculation, just the total space when you calculate for fire code, it comes out to 135,” he said. “We had to take a reduction in the total amount of seats by 15.”
Meanwhile, Yella Grille will use two parking spaces on the privately owned road to set up six four-seat tables, Michael Morris, an attorney representing the restaurant said.
The Board of Selectmen also had to take special votes to recognize that neither Brasserie 28 or Yella Grille are “detrimental to the educational or spiritual use of churches” since they both fall within 500 feet of two downtown-based houses of worship, according to Murphy.
Between the three restaurants, a total of 104 seats will be established on Main Street and Post Office Avenue.
Because Brasserie 28 and Yella both serve alcohol, both restaurants must have their seats fenced or barricaded off in some way, and they must prohibit alcohol from either entering or leaving the seating areas, as required by the license.
With the approval now heading before the ABCC, Morello said he’s not certain when he’ll be able to start offering outdoor dining. Yella Grille is facing the same process, co-owner Danielle Berdahn anticipates will about six to eight weeks to complete.