BERLIN — One of the issues that kicked a hornet’s nest over sidewalk clutter in Berlin was resolved without fuss this week. With a unanimous vote, the Berlin Mayor and Council granted permission for two local restaurants to keep tables and chairs outdoors.
While it may sound inconsequential, it was an initial concern that sidewalk tables in front of The Globe and Si’Culi would impede pedestrians that caused the town to draft new codes for sidewalk obstruction and indirectly led to the forced resignation of the former planning and zoning director.
However, on Monday night, Jennifer Dawicki, owner of The Globe, and Ernest Gerardi, owner of Si’Culi, convinced the council that the outdoor dining did not present an obstruction.
“It is 77 inches from the tables and chairs to the curb, plus a six-inch curb, so it seems to be more than adequate,” said Dawicki.
Dawicki added that, as owner, she is usually on site and would be willing to address any minor issues that might come up.
“If there is ever a time when it is not working out or something has changed, I’m usually on the premise and would love to take care of it,” she said.
The two tables on the sidewalk in front of The Globe do not seem to be presenting any obstruction to foot traffic at this time, according to Mayor Gee Williams.
“I think it’s worked well since whatever you did after they re-did the sidewalk,” he said.
Each of the tables only offers seating for two, noted Dawicki, and leaves enough room for people to comfortably pass, even those walking pets.
Gerardi took the same line as Dawicki.
“We meet all of the requirements in terms of space requirements,” he said. The tables aren’t always in use even if they are set-up, furthered Gerardi.
“When it’s too hot, people don’t like to be out there. When it’s too cold, people don’t like to be out there. It has to be just right.”
The council voted unanimously in favor of allowing the tables to remain in front of both restaurants. Should other businesses wish for a similar privilege, they will also have to get council approval.
With the tables in place, customers can eat outside but cannot be served alcohol, according to Town Attorney Dave Gaskill. He made it clear that the town does not have the authority to allow Dawicki or Gerardi to serve alcohol outside, except for approved special events.