Ridgewood to end outdoor street dining, much to dismay of restaurant owners

A battle between businesses is coming to a head in one of Bergen County’s busiest downtown areas.

News 12 Staff

Mar 17, 2022, 2:40 AM

Updated 823 days ago


A battle between businesses is coming to a head in one of Bergen County’s busiest downtown areas.
The Ridgewood mayor says the town is planning to get rid of street dining. She says it is unfair to other stores.
Mayor Susan Knudsen says restaurants pay to put tables out in the street parking spots. Bareburger, for example, pays about $1,000 per month for the right to put tables on the street. But other businesses are complaining that this practice is impacting them.
“I think it’s hysterical, because you can’t compare. We’re different brands. You’re a restaurant. I sell tween teen clothing,” says Mary Guarracino, owner of Bella & Love.
Guarracino says Ridgewood is unique in that it has a variety of food and stores. News 12 New Jersey crews witnessed dozens of people eating dinner outside on Wednesday night.
But Mayor Knudsen says the outdoor dining corrals must be gone by the end of the month. It was part of the deal she made once the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic passed. Although she admits that she is not sure if the dangers of the pandemic are fully over.
"That commitment was made to the other businesses, retailers and services that really made a selfless sacrifice,” the mayor says.
She says street dining was always meant to be short term. But COVID may have changed human behavior for the long term.
“Oh, we’ll definitely see a decline, 100%,” says Tashi Smith, regional manager at Bareburger.
Smith says outdoor seating has helped sales boom. She says she hopes Ridgewood officials change their mind.
Many Ridgewood business owners say restaurants bring people from out of town and that helps the retailers. But for some, it's the other way around.
“When my customers come, they come for Eat Your Spinach. And then everybody else benefits,” says Anna Anagnos, of Eat Your Spinach Children’s Boutique.
She says street dining is not big deal.
“This is a children’s boutique, so it’s like, they’re going to come no matter what,” says Anagnos.
But she says she has heard some drivers complain.
There is another option for parking around the block – a new multimillion-dollar garage.
“Whether it’s being really used to its capacity, that’s another question,” says Ridgewood resident Phil Vier.
News 12 crews found plenty of spots inside of the garage. The garage is not any more expensive than street parking. It only costs $1 per hour – 25 cents less than the street. But some say the garage is inconvenient.

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