Season for dining al fresco winds down in Saratoga Springs

Only a handful of sidewalk cafes are still standing along Broadway as the weather gets cooler and th

Only a handful of sidewalk cafes are still standing along Broadway as the weather gets cooler and the cafe removal deadline nears.

The city requires that all sidewalk cafes — the seating areas in front of restaurants — be removed by Oct. 31.

“We usually do wait until the end,” said Matthew Loiacono of Uncommon Grounds Coffee & Tea at 402 Broadway.

On Tuesday afternoon, there were six people enjoying the afternoon sun on the coffee shop’s sidewalk patio. Loiacono said people continue to use the outdoor venue even when the mercury drops into the 50s and upper 40s.

The city issued 22 sidewalk cafe licenses this year, according to Stefanie Richards of the city Accounts Department. Most of the permits are for locations on Broadway, but a few are on side streets, such as Phila Street, Henry Street and Lake Avenue.

When an application for a new sidewalk cafe is filed, the city’s Design Review Commission looks at the plans to make sure they are appropriate.

The sidewalk cafe fee is $65 for the season, which starts April 1. There is a $250 per day penalty for those businesses that don’t remove their cafe by Oct. 31.

Richards said that city officials generally allow an eatery a day or two beyond the deadline to remove the outdoor cafe before the enforcement process starts.

“The majority [of the sidewalk cafes] are already down,” Richards said. She said most of the cafes on the west side of Broadway have been removed because that side of the street doesn’t get the afternoon sunshine.

She said the city sends out letters to all of the restaurants that have sidewalk cafes two weeks prior to the Oct. 31 deadline.

The Cantina at 430 Broadway also waits until the last minute before removing its sidewalk cafe. A restaurant employee said not many people use the outdoor cafe in late October but having the tables set outside lets people know the Mexican restaurant is open for business.

“We still have ours up,” said Jacob Moore, a waiter at the Circus Cafe at 392 Broadway. He said people still enjoy dining outside in the late afternoon or early evening if the sun is shining.

The outdoor seating at Saratoga Coffee Traders at 447 Broadway is also still in place. That sidewalk cafe has a sign that says the cafe will be coming down in a week, so enjoy it while it’s still there.

The railings for the outdoor cafes are usually bolted down to the sidewalk. Some of the cafes also are located on a slightly raised platform that has to be removed, as must the railing and the awning above the cafe.

At Maestro’s at the Van Dam at 371 Broadway, removing its outside eating area by Oct. 31 is not an issue. At Maestro’s, the outside dining area is on the former hotel’s front porch, which is private property and not subject to the sidewalk cafe rule.

Kenny Wagner, a manager at Maestro’s, said the popular restaurant has installed propane heaters and electric radiant heat units along the long front porch.

There were four tables in use on the front porch Tuesday evening, with warmth provided by the heaters.

Wagner said Maestro’s will continue to serve lunch and dinner on the porch as long as the heaters make it comfortable for the diners.

The restaurant also provides fleece jackets for customers who aren’t dressed for the cooler elements.

“They know they will be in the house for six months,” Wagner said, so many diners want to enjoy the outdoor venue as long as possible.

Categories: Business, Schenectady County

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