Outdoor Dining in Greenwich Begins to Take Shape

Expanded outdoor seating for about 20 people at Joey B’s in Cos Cob. May 20, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

Restaurants, which have been limited to take out and delivery since Governor Lamont issued a mandatory shut down of all but essential businesses, are now able to operate with outdoor dining service.

Katie DeLuca, director of Planning & Zoning, said 11 establishments had been cleared to get going right away.

Existing Zoning already permits outdoor dining in Greenwich. Applicants go before the Planning and Zoning Commission for approval and renew annually.

Establishments who already had outdoor dining permission simply adjust their plans to meet the guidelines of the CT Dept of Economic & Community Development, which include providing distance between tables and having a path for customers to get to the restrooms that is separate from the one for workers.

Beyond that, Governor Lamont’s executive order 7MM, which was signed on March 12 and went into effect on Wednesday, allows establishments that do not already have outdoor dining permission to submit what P&Z director Katie DeLuca described as a “quick and easy” application that bypasses regular zoning rules, and allows them to create outdoor seating at half their indoor seating capacity, and do things not typically allowed such as erect tents, put tables and chairs on the lawn, and relax parking requirements – on a temporary basis. From there, P&Z forwards applications to the Building, Health and Fire departments.

As of Wednesday morning, DeLuca said acpplications had been approved for 11 establishments to have expanded outdoor dining including three restaurants – Joey B’s, Caren’s Cos Cobber and Townhouse Restaurant on Church St (formerly Gabriele’s) – as well as several country clubs.

At Joey B’s Wednesday morning, Joe Champagne, who was busy taking orders, said he was excited about the new tent and additional seats for expanded outdoor dining at the popular Cos Cob eatery.

As he made breakfast sandwiches, including the popular “Weech” with egg, hash browns, cheese and chili, Champagne said he looked forward to Friday night (May 22) when the regular Joey B’s fish fry dinner (fish & chips, clam strips, fish tacos and more) will be supplemented with specials including Mussels Marinara, Linguini and Clam Sauce and Shrimp Fra Diavolo.

“We’re going to have a different seafood dish every Friday night,” Champagne said.

As for the possibility of closing down parts of Greenwich Avenue after hours to make room for expanded outdoor dining, DeLuca said plans are being worked on daily.

“It won’t be a full closure of Greenwich Avenue, but putting up Jersey barriers – the key is to maintain fire dept access to the front of buildings at all times, provide handicapped access, and maintain proper lanes,” DeLuca told Tony Savino on Wednesday morning on WGCH 1490, adding that the Dept of Public Works is the lead department on these plans.

“It’s complicated, but they are working furiously to get something done,” she added. “Same with Sound Beach Ave, frankly. It’s full steam ahead to get something done.”

Joey B’s is located at 188 River Rd Ext in Cos Cob, 06807.

Take out: (203) 661-0573

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