Expanded outdoor dining a pandemic plus

July 30, 2021

While the coronavirus pandemic affected our communities in countless negative ways, certain adjustments made to cope with the virus’s impact have proven positive and may well become a long lasting part of our resort culture.

Outdoor dining is one such adjustment. The initial deployment of barricades in the commercial district of Rehoboth Beach to help quell the initial spread of the virus gave too much the appearance of a war zone.  But when businesses, particularly restaurants, were given the option of retaining some of the barricades to allow for outdoor dining after a decision was made to remove most of them, some signed on, pivoted, and were able to profit by their choice.

The outdoor seating areas, with provision made for pedestrian passage, have proven very popular.  At first those seating areas provided an option for people wanting to sit outside and be socially distanced.  With indoor capacities restricted for the same social distancing requirements, having the ability to seat customers outside as well as inside helped make up for some of the otherwise lost capacity.

This summer more businesses seized the opportunity and have dressed up their expanded outside areas creating a more festive feel to the primary commercial areas of Baltimore, Rehoboth and Wilmington avenues.  Many restaurants have placed colorful tables, chairs and umbrellas in their seating areas and Rehoboth’s Main Street organization has placed attractive plantings that also enhance the outdoor experience for shoppers and diners.

In addition to being attractive and placing more emphasis on the walking versus the driving experience, the random bump out areas also contribute to traffic calming in the commercial areas which is good for all concerned.

Finally, by allowing businesses the flexibility of using some of the outdoor space on the sidewalks, they have been able, in a particularly tough time, to realize a little more bang for their rental bucks while continuing to enliven the community with their commercial enterprises.

  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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