'It will be fantastic': Milford eateries welcome outdoor dining extension

Ellen Mavuli, center, and her brother Steve Casey, right, join Len Hall at a temporary outdoor dining table at Gusto Trattoria in Milford.

Ellen Mavuli, center, and her brother Steve Casey, right, join Len Hall at a temporary outdoor dining table at Gusto Trattoria in Milford.

Saul Flores / Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — Local restaurateurs are celebrating the city’s decision to extend all temporary outdoor dining area permits for another year.

The Milford Planning & Zoning Board unanimously approved the proposed change to the city’s zoning regulations that extended Gov. Ned Lamont’s outdoor dining executive order . All permits are now valid through March 31, 2022.

David Sulkis, city planner and executive secretary of the board, said the regulation anticipated Lamont’s order expiring later this month. The state legislature has since drafted an extension.

“This was in the works prior to the expiration of the executive order,” he said. “The executive order is still in place but I believe it will expire at the end of the month. So without any state regulation, if the order expires, everybody who has created outdoor dining, that this board hasn’t approved, will have to cease having outdoor dining.”

Sulkis said the extension was “a very business-friendly” thing to do, and allows city restaurants to continue with the outdoor dining, “as they have been through the executive order.”

Board members agreed that the outdoor dining has been good for the businesses with James Kader stating that outdoor dining, “adds a quaintness to the town.”

Lamar Tavaris, manager at Bonfire Grille, said the executive order helped the restaurant a great deal because it enabled the restaurant to use the upstairs patio as outdoor seating. This added four tables to an already small restaurant that had its seating further limited by social distancing protocols.

“With the weather getting better, it will be fantastic that they (diners) can continue to use the upstairs patio,” he said.

At Gusto Trattoria, Ellen Mavuli said the outdoor dining has been great for business.

With the outdoor seating area, head chef Riccardo Mavuli, Ellen’s husband, has been able to create different themes for the outdoor area.

“Customers have been thrilled with the different themes, which have added to the family atmosphere,” she said.

The board also discussed compliance with state regulations regarding tables on the sidewalk. Sulkis said city regulations were a little more relaxed than the state’s. When it comes to sidewalk dining, restaurants only need to leave foot feet of clearance between a table and any telephone pole.

The new regulation ends on March 31, 2022, although the board can create new regulations, change existing regulations or incorporate new standards between now and then if necessary, Sulkis said.