BALLSTON SPA — The Village of Ballston Spa is offering the community a unique dining experience where customers can eat on the street.
Any restaurant located on Front Street can expand their outdoor dining area three nights a week during dining hours. The Village Board voted the new dining rules into effect this past month.
Street dining began June 18 and restaurants located between Low and Bath have expanded their tables to the street. The outdoor dining will be offered from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Larry Woolbright, village mayor, said business has been great for street dining.
“The restaurants have been participating in outdoor dining and they have been doing really good business. It’s been a popular thing. I’ve been down here a few evenings and they have all been doing brisk business. It’s great to see people walking around,” Woolbright said.
The effort is to boost business at local eateries including the Front Street Social Club, Henry’s Irish Tavern, Next Door Restaurant and Sunset Grill. Craig Favreau, manager at Front Street Delicatessen and Pizzeria, said he’s noticed a massive decrease in people dining out since restaurants were allowed to open at half occupancy. He did notice, however, that the community utilized the expanded outdoor seating when it was available.
“We don’t really sell much nowadays with people dining in. People are still eating in, but not like they used to. But they are utilizing the outdoor tables weather permitting,” Favreau said.
Woolbright added: “The restaurants on Front Street are pretty small spaces. When they were allowed to open up with appropriate social distancing, it’s questionable whether some of them will have enough tables to cover their expenses. We felt that in order to help them, we had to give them the opportunity to expand the location of their tables.”
Being closed or exclusively offering takeout has taken a toll on eateries across the world, but Favreau is happy to have the opportunity to expand. Front Street Deli currently allows half of the occupancy of the store. When Front Street is shut down, Favreau takes the unused tables and places them on the street.
“Right now, half of our tables inside are not in use. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday we get the ones that we are not using inside and put them outside,” Favreau said. “I think having this makes people more inclined to dine out.”
The community of Saratoga Springs is hoping for a similar dining opportunity on Broadway. However, expanding outdoor seating won't be an option, as Broadway is also State Route 50 which is controlled by the state. Two weeks ago, the City Council approved a permit system that will allow the city’s restaurants to expand their outdoor dining. The permit will allow eateries to place their chairs and tables on sidewalks and streets.
Front Street Deli is located at 39 Front Street. They can be reached at thefsdeli.com or 518-884-0456.
“It’s been tough on these small outfits to be closed for so long,” Woolbright said. “Unless something changes with indoor dining, we reserved the right to change the system anytime that it appears that it needs to be changed. My guess is until the restaurants are allowed to open back up at their full capacity we’ll probably continue to do this.”