After a successful trial run last year, two downtown Westport restaurants will again serve up a popular form of alfresco dining this year.
The Board of Selectmen approved applications Wednesday from Acqua Ristorante Mediterraneo on Main Street and La Villa Trattoria on Bay Street to install "pop-out" seating, which converts parking spaces into outdoor dining areas. Both restaurants set up the temporary outdoor seating last year when the town introduced the policy.
Acqua's pop-out cafe will seat 32 patrons in Parker-Harding Plaza. The restaurant's interior has about 100 seats.
"Most people loved it, and it gave us more foot traffic," Marc Murphy, Acqua's general manager, told the selectmen.
Murphy added that he noticed that Acqua's pop-out seating had encouraged neighboring establishments to more prominently use their frontage on Parker-Harding Plaza, which overlooks the Saugatuck River.
La Villa Trattoria's pop-out seating installation will accommodate 22 patrons. Inside, it seats about 45.
"The pop-out seating was a very good experience for us," Michael Sornatale, Villa Trattoria's owner and chef, said. "We're looking forward to doing it again."
Both Acqua and Villa Trattoria plan to open their outdoor cafes within the next two weeks.
The pop-out guidelines were developed by a planning subcommittee led by Planning and Zoning Commissioner Howard Lathrop and Westport Transit District Co-Director Jennifer Johnson. They allow the temporary outdoor seating on municipal one-way streets or in municipal parking lots with one-way traffic flows in the downtown's Business Center District and Business Center District/Historic zones.
Interested downtown dining establishments pay a $150 fee to apply to the Board of Selectmen for a pop-out cafe permit on public rights-of-way and also pay to install those dining facilities.
Pop-up cafes can be set up on platforms level with sidewalks and demarcated from the roadway by markers, such as umbrellas and planters, according to the policy.
The pop-out cafe season runs from April 1 to Nov. 1; during the winter months, pop-out seating areas revert to street parking.
Pop-out cafes' hours of operation run Sunday to Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to midnight. Dining establishments can play non-amplified music in pop-out seating areas until 9 p.m.
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