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Agawam allows for outdoor dining at restaurants

Date: 6/10/2020

AGAWAM – The Town of Agawam is taking temporary actions to help restaurants expand their opportunities to boost their business.

Coinciding with Phase Two of Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening plan, eateries are allowed to apply for temporary outdoor dining permits. While indoor dining will still not be allowed, restaurants would be allowed to set up outdoor seating for diners on the premises, occupying a portion of their parking lot, space permitting.

 “We know that these restaurants are hurting if they can do some takeout and outdoor dining we’re hoping that will bring people in to help them get a little more revenue,” said Mayor Bill Sapelli.

If a location does not have the physical space for safe outdoor seating, the permit will not be approved. Reminder Publishing asked Sapelli if this creates an advantage for businesses with larger lots.

“Would it be an unfair advantage? Yeah, but we’re not going to say, ‘then you can’t do it,’” to the businesses that have space, Sapelli said. “As many as we can help, we will.”

Safety precautions will be required for the outdoor seating area. Tables and chairs must be at least six feet apart with a limit of six people per table. Seating areas will be held to a strict 9 p.m. serving curfew.

Allowing for expanded outdoor dining will hopefully keep diners in Agawam, rather than going to Connecticut, which allowed outdoor seating to reopen before Massachusetts did, Sapelli said in a press release on the initiative.

 In the same statement, Council President Christopher C. Johnson said the council supports small businesses through “flexibility to operate in such unique times.”

The standard $50 permit fee has been waived. “It’s just another $50 in their pocket,” the mayor said.

Sapelli said the town is expecting 15 or so businesses to take advantage of the temporary expansions.

“These are local businesses. They’re not chains. It’s personal here,” Sapelli said.

The applications will be expedited and the fire department, planning board, zoning, and other departments will be working to get the applications processed as quickly as possible. The permits will expire Nov. 1, well past the end of the outdoor seating season.

Contact Inspection Services at 786-0400 ext. 8633 or Businesses seeking to serve alcohol outdoors must contact the Liquor Commission at