By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Sea Isle City’s Planning Board will hold a special meeting June 16 to consider plans by O’Donnell’s Pour House to open a new outdoor dining area next to the Irish-themed restaurant and tavern.
O’Donnell’s owners acquired and then demolished an old house at the corner of 39th Street and Landis Avenue next to the restaurant to make room for outdoor dining. They are seeking site plan approval from the planning board to build the project.
The O’Donnell’s project was originally supposed to be heard at the June 8 planning board meeting, but a paperwork error has caused the date to be pushed back to June 16.
Scheduled for 7 p.m., the special meeting will be held remotely, but the public will be able to participate online or by teleconference. Instructions for public participation will be announced by the planning board.
No date has been announced yet for opening the outdoor dining spot at O’Donnell’s. Ralph Pasceri, who owns O’Donnell’s with his brother Pat and business partner Michael Roberts, said in an earlier interview that he hopes to have the project completed as quickly as possible for the summer tourism season.
After the global coronavirus pandemic hit, they accelerated the property’s redevelopment plan by deciding to undertake “a very quick expansion” for outdoor dining, Pasceri said.
The outdoor dining area will contain more than 150 seats, but Pasceri said he is unsure whether all of them will be needed because of the social distancing guidelines restaurants will have to follow once they reopen.
Gov. Phil Murphy has announced he is allowing outdoor dining to begin June 15 at restaurants and bars as the state continues to slowly emerge from the coronavirus shutdown restrictions.
“Allowing outdoor dining and the expansion of alcohol-serving areas will allow restaurants and bars to begin welcoming customers back while continuing to comply with necessary social distancing guidance,” Murphy said in a statement Wednesday.
The governor has given local municipalities the power to decide whether eateries that don’t already have outdoor dining space can expand their footprint by using their own property or public sidewalks, streets and parks for seating.
Additionally, a special ruling by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control will allow establishments that have with liquor licenses to serve alcohol in outdoor areas.
Restaurants will be required to space their outdoor tables at least six feet apart to comply with social distancing requirements. There will be a limit of eight customers per table.
Murphy has not yet announced a date for allowing indoor dining. He said during a coronavirus briefing in Trenton that safety and sanitation protocols for indoor dining are more complicated than for outdoor dining.
Currently, New Jersey restaurants are allowed to offer takeout orders, curbside pickup and deliveries under Murphy’s shutdown orders during the pandemic.