Get ready for Concord outdoor dining, which begins Thursday

  • Jenni Lawrence and Kellie Haywood-Minery sit outside of T-Bones Great American Eatery on South Main Street in Concord on Tuesday. MELISSA CURRAN photos / Monitor staff

  • T-Bones eatery on South Main Street near exit 12 on I-93 in Concord. MELISSA CURRAN—Monitor staff

  • A waitress serves up food to outdoor diners at T-Bones Great American Eatery on South Main Street in Concord on Tuesday.

  • The outdoor dining area at Margaritas Mexican Restaurant in Bicennential Square in Concord on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTERMonitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/31/2021 2:48:46 PM

As temperatures slowly but surely start to climb into the 60s and 70s, local restaurants are ready for the beginning of outdoor dining, which starts Thursday and runs to Nov. 15. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, this an especially welcome change for local business.

Tom Hoffner, general manager of Vibes Burgers, called outdoor dining “imperative,” as it will “allow business levels to escalate as those that are still concerned about being indoors have the opportunity to not be indoors.”

Vibes Burgers uses tables on the side of the building to provide outdoor dining, between their building and the patio next door. Hoffner said customers have been “trying to bust down our doors for about two weeks now trying to get outdoor dining,” he said.

Hoffner is strongly anticipating an upswing in sales, which he said is badly needed. “There’s a lot of catching up to do” in the financial sense, he said. “The outdoor dining is going to be monstrously important in that, in terms of how it brings people in and drives people to the restaurants.”

The weather for Thursday, the first day of outdoor dining calls for rain, but sunny skies are predicted for the weekend.

Corey Fletcher, owner and chef of Revival Kitchen & Bar, built an outdoor deck last year, which he expects to help boost the restaurant’s business.

“It’s pretty important, with decreased capacity inside,” Fletcher said.

Making up for lost sales is even more important for Revival, due to an incident in the winter when a burst pipe sent water cascading down into the restaurant, which had to be closed for repairs. Those repairs are still not complete, but Fletcher said that they will be soon – a couple weeks to a month away. Once repairs are far enough along, he said, they can begin setting up the outdoor dining area.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Fletcher said.

One of the city’s newer restaurants is T-Bones Great American Eatery near the new Tru by Hilton hotel off Exit 12 of Interstate 93.

“It’s looking good,” said Tom Boucher, CEO and owner of Great NH Restaurants, noting that business had picked up already on recent warm days. “I think the general public is ready for it.”

T-Bones will have tables on sidewalks and a tent set up in a nearby parking lot, which will go up in about two weeks. Boucher said that it will have heating for cooler days and evenings, as well as nicer furniture that they upgraded from last year’s rentals. “It’s not going to feel like you’re eating in a parking lot,” he said.

Both Revival and T-Bones will be taking advantage of the city’s temporary expanded outdoor dining protocol, which allows restaurants to place tables and chairs on public areas such as sidewalks and parking lots.

“It’s really just a way to help our Concord restaurants as we hopefully pull out of the pandemic but look forward to spring and summer,” said Stefanie Breton, public information officer for the city. “It’s just a nice option for people who do want to support the restaurants and businesses but just don’t feel comfortable yet dining inside.”

This is the same protocol that the city council put into place last summer during COVID-19, and this year, the council voted in February to renew it. “It definitely helped last year,” said Breton, “and we’re definitely looking forward to having it back in place this year.”

As of this week, 21 restaurants have requested the expanded outdoor dining permits, and Breton expects that there will be more as the season continues. In addition to those restaurants, there are many that already have outdoor dining space and will be opening those areas up for business as usual.

Jessica Martin, executive director Intown Concord, is working to promote the various Concord restaurants that will offer outdoor dining this season.

“I think the outdoor dining all across the state and especially in Concord was really effective last year, it created a lot of vibrancy,” Martin said. “The restaurants are all expecting an increase from what they’ve seen up until this point,” she added.

Martin said expanded outdoor dining could remain a viable option even on the other side of the pandemic. While Breton declined to speculate on whether it would, she said it was a possibility that some have discussed.

Boucher would like that to happen: “I hope the city allows us to put a tent up every year, people loved it,” he said.

With the changing of seasons, Fletcher said that Revival will be looking to update its offerings to customers. “Spring is a rebirth,” he said, “so it’s a good chance for us to take a look at our food and beverage menus.”

Aside from COVID, the seasons changing brings excitement in and of itself.

“Everybody’s excited to just sit on the sidewalk, drink a beer, have a burger, watch life roll by and just eat and drink your troubles away for a little bit,” Hoffner said.

For more information on restaurants offering outdoor dining, visit Intown Concord’s website.

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