By Seth Daniel
As the re-design of Everett Square begins to filter down to business owners and residents, at least one restaurant owner in the Square said he fully supports the part of the plan calling for outdoor dining.
Richard Sasso, the owner of the popular 8/10 Restaurant on Norwood Street in the Square, said dining outdoors is a very good idea for Everett – though until now few have really thought about it.
It is, however, a central piece of the new Everett Square Re-Design plans, as unveiled to the City Council on Monday night.
“It’s a good idea and it will work if done right,” he said. “I think it would be a great way to bring people back out to the Square and a draw for them to come here and dine Al Fresco, as they call it. If it helps build community, it can be a great asset to the community.”
At the 8/10, on the south side of Norwood Street, the current plan calls for wider sidewalks and a, perhaps, a bump out to accommodate the seating for 8/10. The only requirement is that a four-foot path on the sidewalk be kept open. Across the street, 19-foot sidewalks provide plenty more space for outdoor dining and coffee shops.
Tony Sousa, the City’s planner, said there isn’t much that needs to be done with City regulations to allow outdoor dining. He said they have targeted this spring as the first round for outdoor dining to begin.
However, he did say that there might be some things to work out with the License Commission for those with liquor licenses who want to serve drinks outdoors.
“We took our inspiration for this from Abbondanza’s Ristorante on Main Street,” he said. “They set up some tables there and they’ve done really well with it. We can see that happening in Everett Square and really all over the City where it makes sense.”
Councilor Michael McLaughlin said he supports the idea as well.
“It changes the whole Square,” he said. “It sends a message to people driving by that something good is happening here and they should slow down and maybe stop in. With the restaurants, if they do this with responsible owners, it can be a very successful part of this overall plan.”
Sasso said one of the problems with the Square is that it doesn’t bode well for building community. In the old days, the Everett native remembers activity and people talking to each other and running errands while they caught up with neighbors. Now, it’s mostly cars buzzing by and people in those cars trying to get through the stoplights while pedestrians try to avoid getting hit.
“You need this Square to be a center of activity,” he said. “I think if people can come to the Square and get to know their neighbors and talk to them as they eat outdoors, it can be good for everyone. Once you share a meal next to a person outdoors, it no longer matters where they’re from or what ethnicity they are. You are able to get to know them…On a summer evening, the idea of coming to the Square and having a nice meal with a glass of wine or a cocktail outside will get people out of their homes. I think it can attract people here.”
Sasso said he is excited to participate and hopes that other restaurants now and in the future will also participate. He envisions four or five tables outside with full service.