WALLINGFORD — During a special meeting at Town Hall Wednesday, the Town Council’s Ordinance Committee discussed changing the local ordinance pertaining to restaurants’ outdoor dining areas where alcohol is served.
Committee members have come to a consensus that the following language will be removed from ordinance No. 6211: The service of alcoholic liquor in such outdoor sidewalk dining areas must be accompanied by a food purchase and must be accompanied by a food purchase and must be performed by wait staff only.
_ All alcoholic liquor must be placed or situated on the dining table and must be in plain glasses, plain cups or other plain containers.
_ No alcoholic liquor advertising may be displayed in the outdoor sidewalk dining area, and no umbrellas or awnings containing such advertising may be situated over the tables or chairs in said area.
The committee did not take any action, but rather gave Corporation Counsel Janis Small some direction on what they would like to see in a proposed change to the language.
Right now, the ordinance says the outdoor dining area cannot be occupied beyond 11 p.m. Cheryl Milot, owner of Gaetano’s Tavern on Main requested that be pushed back to midnight.
“There are times that we have to tell people ... you’ve got to come in now,” said Milot. “We do have people who come, have dinner and linger and have a couple of more cocktails.” Milot said she’d prefer to reserve outside tables for people who want to eat because the restaurant can make more money that way, but sometimes when “happy hour” starts, customers want to sit on the patio and have drinks but not order food.
“That’s against the ordinance,” she said.
Councilor John LeTourneau said he’s been to restaurants outside of Connecticut where you can walk into the outdoor dining area, sit down, order a drink and have a cigar without having to buy food.
“It works and it can work here,” he said.
Councilor Craig Fishbein was concerned that the ordinance does not call for annual renewal of a permit for dining areas on public sidewalks. Small said applications to occupy a public sidewalk go to the Town Council.
Ordinance Committee members wanted to give that responsibility to another town department, which would also be in charge of enforcing the ordinance.
Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said it would most likely be the Building Department because it also measures the sidewalk to make sure there’s enough space to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act