Reporting Gigi Barnett
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Longer outdoor dining in Annapolis could soon be on the way for customers.
It’s something the mayor is pushing. As Gigi Barnett explains, he’s teaming up with restaurants to get it.
Enjoying a beverage outdoors is part of the charm of Annapolis. But when night falls on the state capital, the law says outdoor seating must go.
“It’s not the type of atmosphere we want to promote,” said Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen.
That’s why Cohen wrote a bill to extend the late outdoor cafe hours. Right now, restaurants must remove late night seating at 11 p.m. He says customers should be allowed to stay.
“For me, it comes down to whether we have responsible restauranteurs, and if we have responsible restauranteurs, why should we penalize all restaurants?” Cohen said.
“Annapolis is not the sleepy town that it once used to be,” Red Red Wine Bar owner Lisa Bolter said. “You know, at 11 o’clock, people are just getting out. A lot of people are eating a lot later.”
Bolter said she consistently turns customers who want to catch a late dinner away. Plus, restaurants lose even more business when the chairs and tables go in.
“From up the street, it consistently appears that we’re closed and that not only hurts our outdoor business but our indoor business as well,” Bolter said.
There is some opposition to extending the late-night outdoor seating hours. Much of it comes from homeowners in the vicinity of the restaurants who don’t want more noise or bigger crowds. But the city says of the restaurants that have the permits for late-night hours, many of them want to see their customers stay outdoors.
Annapolis lawmakers say a final vote on the extended hours should come within two months.