Rehoboth Beach outdoor dining period expanded, with new regulations

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. – It’s official: outdoor dining in Rehoboth Beach is now a year-round affair.

“Outdoor dining is very popular and adds to the welcoming character of our city,” said Commissioner Patrick Gossett in a release.

But, there’s a catch. Restaurants can no longer take up the entire sidewalk, forcing pedestrians into blocked-off walkways in the street. Eateries in downtown Rehoboth Beach must leave at least seven feet open on sidewalks. For restaurants on the first block of Rehoboth Avenue, that requirement is upped to eight feet. A barrier at least 42 inches high must also be installed on the perimeter of the outdoor dining space. Plus, only two-top and four-top tables are allowed outside.

“Part of our philosophy in creating the new rules is that we do not want restaurants to utilize the full, entire width of the sidewalk because we don’t want pedestrians to have to walk out in the street anymore,” said Mayor Stan Mills. “Unfortunately, some restaurants that only have a very narrow sidewalk in front of them may not be able to have outdoor dining.”

Even with the new regulations in place, Mayor Mills says he’s excited to see the business that the outdoor dining will draw. “We’re looking forward, and we’re ready to go with being able to expedite analysis and looking at those applications, including meeting with the restaurateur on site, so we can see what they want to do and help them through the process,” he said.

Those applications are now open. The application fee is $150. If approved, restaurants that do not serve alcohol must buy a $163 permit fee. For those establishments that do serve alcohol, they will have to pay up $325. Restaurants that serve alcohol are also required to get state approval from the Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

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