LYNN — With the arrival of spring comes a renewed focus on outdoor dining, and the city of Lynn has partnered with more than 15 local restaurants to install some creative options.
The creative outdoor dining options, which are expected to include patio extension build-outs and painted Jersey barriers, are aimed at boosting business for local restaurants that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve had a huge amount of interest from the businesses this year,” said Assistant City Planner Lauren Drago. “With the help of community partners like the Creative Collective, I think they’re going to look even better than last year. These are going to be great as spring roars in.”
The restaurants incorporating outdoor dining in Lynn this spring include: El Gran Jaguar Restaurant, El Tikal Restaurant, El Tikal Bakery, B Sweets Cakes and Desserts, Nightshade Noodle Bar, Phinix Kitchens and Lounge, Brickyard Bar and Grill, Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co., R.F. O’Sullivans, El Tejano, Vicky’s Restaurant, Rolly’s Tavern on the Square, and Cafe El Molino Restaurant.
“I am glad the city is providing this help and permission for outside seating,” said Erica Sanabria, owner of El Gran Jaguar and El Tikal Bakery. “The businesses will benefit a lot from this because it will provide a great atmosphere and will attract more customers for dine-in service. The city is changing, and I’m glad the city is keeping the small businesses in mind and helping us progress with the change.”
These creative reopenings are supported by an $81,132 Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Shared Streets and Spaces Grant. The entirety of the funding has now been committed toward that end.
Funding from that grant program was used to create six outdoor dining setups last year through the city’s partnership with organizations Lynn Main Streets and Beyond Walls.
This year, the city has partnered with the Creative Collective, a Salem-based business program designed to support the creative industry on the North Shore, to expand outdoor dining support to additional restaurants.
Creative Collective owner John Andrews expects that construction of some outdoor dining spaces will begin within the next two weeks.
“This is about increasing accessibility, making sure that these spaces all provide public benefit, but also providing economic support and opportunities for underserved businesses,” said Andrews.
The Creative Collective has worked with restaurants in Salem on similar projects, including the building of platforms outside of Howling Wolf Taqueria and Bambolina.
Andrews expects that the restaurants in Lynn will incorporate patio extension build-outs, tables and chairs, and Jersey barriers painted by local artists.
“We like to spread the love and get as many people as much work as possible,” said Andrews. “Obviously, the creative community has had a really challenging time through this.”
“It has also been a real community benefit employing local creatives we have contracted to enhance these activations,” said Tia Cole, the Collective’s special project manager. “Lynn has an absolute wealth of inspiring business owners, community members and creatives, and we are honored to work with such dedicated locals and offer opportunities and support to those that work, live and create in this vibrant community.”
Drago said she hopes these outdoor dining options can remain in place after the pandemic fades.
“We would like the opportunity to make these changes permanent,” said Drago, explaining that such a permanent change would require approval at the state level. “Hopefully we’ll be able to have them beyond just the summer.”