In a move that could redefine the culinary landscape of Rhode Island, the General Assembly has passed a bill to make outdoor dining a permanent feature in the state. The legislation, which sets guidelines for towns and cities to regulate this aspect of dining culture, is now awaiting Governor Dan McKee's approval.
A New Era for Rhode Island's Dining Scene
The bill, championed by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee, marks a significant shift in Rhode Island's hospitality sector. If approved, it will allow restaurants to establish outdoor dining areas between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., providing an expanded experience for patrons.
Local authorities will retain the power to regulate noise ordinances, public safety rules, and other related aspects. However, they will be prohibited from enacting ordinances that would outright ban outdoor dining or limit its seasons.
The Birth of a Bill
The introduction of the bill follows the successful implementation of the "take it outside" program during the pandemic. This initiative, credited with injecting economic benefits into the tourism and hospitality sectors through increased tax revenue, has underscored the potential of outdoor dining.
The legislation also mandates the establishment of dining capacities and requires barriers next to parking lots or roads to ensure diner safety. It strikes a balance between promoting outdoor dining and maintaining local control over public property use.
A Toast to the Future
Business owners and employees have expressed enthusiastic support for the bill, citing the benefits of outdoor dining for their establishments. The prospect of extended operating hours and the potential for increased revenue has sparked optimism within the industry.
However, the bill's success hinges on Governor McKee's approval. If signed into law, it will mark a new chapter in Rhode Island's dining culture, one that embraces the open air and the communal spirit of sharing a meal under the sky.
As Rhode Island moves towards making outdoor dining a permanent fixture, it joins a growing list of places worldwide that are reimagining their dining landscapes. The bill, if approved, promises not just economic benefits but also a renewed sense of community and connection - elements that are increasingly valuable in today's world.