Mattapoisett’s Inn on Shipyard Park Gets Pushback Over Outdoor Dining
Mattapoisett Select Board member Jodi Bauer was not happy to learn that there was going to be another year of outdoor dining at The Inn on Shipyard Park.
Bauer's problem is not with The Inn's famous porch, but with the fact that the current outdoor dining plan includes the use of the town's sidewalk and extends onto Water Street.
"It's town property," Bauer said. "(The Inn's) got a parking lot in the back where they can easily set up seating and the tent on their own property."
In front of the building is a billion-dollar view of Mattapoisett Harbor. Behind the building, the parking lot overlooks the backyard of Mattapoisett Free Public Library.
"If I could only have it in the parking lot, I'd consider not doing (outdoor dining) because I don't think anyone would be interested in sitting back there," said The Inn's owner, Nils Johnson. "When we have had a tent back there we'd get noise complaints from the neighbors and complaints from customers because they were eating near the dumpster."
Johnson said he hadn't heard any complaints about the use of the sidewalk in front of his restaurant until last week's Select Board meeting. Bauer said residents believe the barriers and boulders that have been used to protect diners from passing traffic are an eyesore to the beautiful neighborhood.
"Do you pay rent to the town?" Bauer asked Johnson at the Select Board meeting. "You are running your business on town property. This is year three. This can't continue."
Bauer said she believes residents should be able to walk on the sidewalk without having to walk around The Inn's outdoor dining.
"It's a very busy area," she said.
Johnson responded: "We're the industry that took a beating during the pandemic. I'm not trying to aggravate anyone. I'll put whatever you want me to put up out front."
The owner speculated that as restaurants across the state continue to recover from the pandemic, we'll see an adjustment in the blue laws that will make it easier to have outdoor dining and alcohol consumption.
"It's a Covid rule that has been put into place all around the state," he said. "Public property is being used to help an industry that got mandated to be shut down, coupled with capacity limits. I think what the state was trying to do was to help restaurants play catch-up."
Johnson said his business is still very much trying to recover from the pandemic.
"To take two years of revenue and flush it down the toilet at a place like that on the waterfront when my tax bills and mortgages didn't stop -- that still happened regardless of our sales dropping 50%."
Mattapoisett Town Administrator Michael Lorenco and Select Board members Jordan Collyer and R. Tyler Macallister did not express any issues with The Inn's current outdoor dining setup.
The state's extension on expanded outdoor dining and to-go cocktails expires April 1, 2023.