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Warm weather brings packed outdoor seating at restaurants as lawmakers vote on extension bill

The warm weather brought crowds of people to eat outdoors all while lawmakers are looking to extend outdoor dining for restaurants.

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Spring is officially two days away, but on Friday it already felt like it. 

The warm weather and sunshine brought crowds of people out to Downtown West Hartford.

"Usually when the weather spikes up, we see a spike in the numbers in our cup count," said Sammie Chung, a worker at Tea Break. 

Lines went out the door at Tea Break, a popular spot for thirst-quenching Boba, also known as Bubble Tea.

Chung, one of the workers tried to keep up with the high demand, but it was no surprise as nice weather means a cold drink. 

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"I love it. I'm so happy it's warm out for once," said Chung. 

Chung was not the only one who felt that. Lots of West Hartford residents took their four-legged friends for some exercise. 

"The weather is gorgeous, I usually take him for a walk around this time and today's a little longer walk because the weather was nice," said John Antony of West Hartford. 

Right across from Tea Break are restaurants and many of their outdoor seating areas were full. 

Max Burger told FOX61 they just opened up their patio seating on Wednesday. 

RELATED: Local eateries bring out the 'igloos' to extend outdoor dining through winter

"Well as soon as the weather is getting warm, we get a million phone calls a day and everybody is asking us when we're going to happen," said Jamie Pinto, manager of Max Burger. 

It was also just on Wednesday when the House of Representatives voted on a bill to extend outdoor dining for an additional 13 months, since it is set to expire on March 31. 

The extension will aim to give restaurants a chance to catch up on business since many were forced to shut their doors during the pandemic, a wound they are still recovering from.

The bill was voted on in the House and it passed with a vote of 121-21. 

Some Republicans, on the other hand, opposed the bill and expressed concerns over the state having control over local zoning regulations. 

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Pinto said the Town of West Hartford has been discussing ways to possibly set up outdoor dining onto the sidewalks or part of the roads again. 

"There are still a lot of people who aren't comfortable sitting inside so the more outdoor seating we have, the better it is for us and our business just because we have a lot more tables," said Pinto. 

Time is running out for the bill to be passed. The Senate is expected to vote on it as soon as next week. 

Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at cchau@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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