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Local restaurants relieved after House vote relaxing outdoor dining guidelines

Bill 661, which discusses the provision of outdoor food and beverage service by restaurants, just needs approval from the Senate.

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Restaurants around the state could soon be allowed to continue outdoor dining through March of next after the Connecticut House of Representatives unanimously approved an executive order relaxing certain restrictions for restaurants.

Bill 661, which discusses the provision of outdoor food and beverage service by restaurants, just needs approval from the Senate.

Scott Dolch, the executive director of the CT Restaurant Association said this extension is going to be a "lifesaver" for thousands of restaurants that don't have traditional patios.

"Restaurants that have patios can do that but this is about restaurants that don't have it or want to use parking lots, and grass areas - things you saw in COVID," he said. "This piece of legislation allows every restaurant opportunity to go outside and recover in 2021." 

This bill providing restaurants the ability to expand past their traditional zoning barriers. 

For West Hartford business Citizens Chicken & Donuts, who opened their doors during the pandemic, they're excited to expand their business into their parking lot.

They opened their doors in February 2021, and have been primarily to-go based on the size of their location. With the outdoor dining capability, they're able to expand their mission and their menu. 

Currently, Citizens has a parking lot with a partial overhang, which they're working to transform into a patio for their customers.

"We're just going through permits with the town so we're going to get this so we can have table out here so you're protected from the weather but you're still outside and you're enjoying the fresh, nice, beautiful weather," Van Hurd, Executive Chef at Citizens said.

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