Garden State bars, restaurants, distilleries, and breweries will receive support from the state after Gov. Phil Murphy signed new legislation Aug. 3 in North Jersey.
The bill (S-2364) will allow those businesses to use fixtures and equipment enabling them to serve patrons outdoors and allow for dining outdoors in private areas, on sidewalks, and other municipally-designated outdoor areas.
“My administration worked in collaboration with the Legislature to support the restaurant industry and their customers by expanding outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue that support today by extending these expanded permissions for food and beverage establishments throughout our state,” said Murphy in announcing the signing of the legislation at Vesta Wood-Fired in East Rutherford.
The provisions were set to expire Nov. 30 but will be extended by two additional years to better support the food and beverage industry.
“Supporting the success of our small businesses ultimately means supporting the success of our communities. Continuing this successful practice will not only benefit small business owners, but also the many patrons who have come to enjoy the atmosphere and opportunities outdoor dining offers,” said the governor.
Continued Authorization for Equipment
The bill will provide for the continued authorization of fixtures like tents; canopies; umbrellas; tables; and chairs.
Many business owners turned to outdoor dining during the summer of 2020 at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Murphy authorized municipalities to enable the expansion of outdoor dining during this period.
“Extending the ability of restaurants, bars, distilleries, and breweries to continue to serve additional patrons at their outside facilities will not only financially benefit these businesses, but will also help grow the economy as new positions are created to meet additional demand,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan at the event.
Recovery from COVID-19
The effort was part of Murphy’s ongoing support for small businesses. Recently, an additional $50 million investment was made for the Main Street Recovery Fund, which has assisted many restaurants and other small businesses.
“Outdoor dining was a vital lifeline for restaurants and bars that experienced severe financial hardship during the pandemic,” said State Sen Paul Sarlo (D-36). “It allows local businesses to stay afloat, to keep their employees on the payroll, and to generate economic activity that brings life to communities throughout the state.”
“Their hard times are not over, as they continue to face challenges during difficult times. We can now extend a practice that has proven to be successful for business owners and employees and very popular with patrons.”
North Jersey Help
Vesta Wood-Fired was one such business that received a grant from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
“This legislation extending outdoor dining is a great example of dynamic leadership navigating the people of New Jersey through the tough times of COVID to a better, more stable place,” stated Frank Giampa, Chef/Owner of Vesta Wood-Fired. “In these times of uncertainty, it’s reassuring to know we have leadership to take action on our behalf.”
State Sen. Gordon Johnson (D-37) added, “Outdoor dining was a real success during challenging times It offered safe dining conditions for people who were anxious to get back to their favorite restaurants and bars as we emerged from the coronavirus shutdown. There are still variants around and local businesses haven’t regained all their lost business—so this is a success story that should continue.”