Edgartown looking at ‘hybrid model’ for outdoor dining

Selectmen expected to discuss plan again on Monday.

Edgartown has set a policy for restaurants to offer outdoor dining. — Brian Dowd

Outdoor dining in Edgartown took another step toward reality Wednesday after selectmen asked town administrator James Hagerty to work with town department heads to put together a “hybrid model” that could be discussed and possibly voted on on Monday.

In April, the Edgartown Board of Trade sent out an Island-wide survey in tandem with the Island-wide business task force to get input from business owners, who largely supported expanded seating, but no changes to traffic patterns.

“We saw strong support for the allowance for restaurants to expand on their property or other allotted space for outdoor dining and seating, without the changing of traffic patterns,” Erin Ready, executive director of the Edgartown Board of Trade, said. “We also saw strong support for loading zones to be allowed for curbside pickup.”

Ready also said if these policies were approved, the Board of Trade would suggest having an application process for restaurants to fill out their intentions.

Town officials have been working with business owners to develop a plan for outdoor dining amid the coronavirus pandemic.

During a Wednesday selectmen’s meeting on Zoom, Hagerty said the hybrid model would most likely consist of Main Street remaining open, parts of the Church Street parking lot blocked off, and the area of lower Main Street to be decided upon when businesses submit their applications for having expanded dining.

“The hybrid model is essentially parklets, with the main traffic corridors remaining open,” Hagerty said.

Police Chief Bruce McNamee, who was on the call, said outdoor dining could work, but said he’d like to have as minimal an impact on vehicle and pedestrian traffic as possible. 

Rosewater owner Christopher Celeste voiced his support for the “outside the box” thinking on implementing outdoor dining, and said he’d like to see less long-term parking to create more space for curbside pickups.

Geoghan Coogan, whose family owns the Wharf, said he would prefer no traffic on lower Main Street. Both McNamee and Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer agreed that if traffic continued on lower Main Street, then a barrier of some sort would be set up to separate dining tables from vehicle traffic.

Hagerty said he would work with the town’s department heads, and hopefully have a plan for selectmen to discuss on Monday.


  1. Terrific ideas. Let us use creativity and solve issues for homeowners, renters, restaurants, businesses, it can be done by judicious use of the sidewalks, street, front spaces of buildings, and it is a good idea to open the businesses, serve the community, not only day trippers, but people who live downtown and can either go to a restaurant, or order take out. I think to serve the downtown householders, having street usage designed to maximize the take out business would help the business owners a lot. I know that Edgartown has really good management and I have a lot of faith in their ability to handle this well.

  2. Why not? The floodgates are open.???????? People are coming… Beach Road was packed at 3:30 pm today. ⛱⛱ Close the lower Main Street area with vehicular access for fishermen only. Work together, work hard…get it done. Think positive.????

  3. Ok — let’s really think outside the box–
    Let’s take the parking lot at the wharf, and let the restaurants in the area set up designated areas for them. They could bring their tables down there, set them up at acceptable social distancing parameters, and serve people at those tables. Yes, it would be a walk for the staff, and perhaps the customers could order at the restaurant, then wait at the designated area. The restaurants could bring food down on carts.
    Seating could be fluid for restaurants sharing tables ; if one is slow, and another packed.
    it would require co operation from the restaurants in the area: there are likely 10 or so that would have to work it out between themselves, but if the town could facilitate the use of that space for perfect summer outdoor dining, that would be a way to go, I think. Set up some nice lights, perhaps even music. They already have the view.

  4. I’m not going near any place that is crowded until we have a vaccine, and a lot of people I talk to feel the same way. Take out, maybe, but not if I see a crowd waiting in line or milling about. Not worth the risk.

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