Restaurant owners await town board’s decision on making outdoor dining permanent in Riverhead

Outdoor dining in Riverhead could soon be permanent.
In July, the town board approved an extension for outdoor dining until Sept. 30.
Restaurant owners like Robert Pollifrone are anxiously anticipating the Riverhead Town Board making outdoor dining a thing of the future.
“There are some people who just won’t eat inside, and if you’re a business who has 30 seats inside and people don’t want to eat inside, you’re going to suffer,” Pollifrone says.
President of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce Bob Kern says if restaurants are able to double their seating, they could regain some of the money they lost in 2020.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar says restaurants would not have survived without outdoor dining and that all safety and code issues have been addressed by the town.
“We have to have our parking lots clear,” Aguiar says. “We have to have emergency responders be able to respond.”
Owners like Ken Loo of Haiku Sushi believe permanent outdoor dining can even change the landscape of the food industry in Riverhead.
“I’m sure business owners would invest in making outdoor space better,” Loo says. “Hanging more lights and plants and make it much nicer for our customers.”
The Riverhead Town Board is scheduled to vote on the resolution to allow for outdoor dining to by permanent on Wednesday.