Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig has revealed an idea to AllOTSEGO of allowing restaurants in Downtown Oneonta to serve people in the middle of the street. Can you believe it?! We've all been waiting for more outdoor dining in Oneonta which is sorely lacking with limited choices.

This concept of "reimagining" life in Oneonta during the COVID-19 pandemic is being discussed by the ‘Survive and Thrive’ task force. According to Mayor Gary Herzig, there is no plan in place yet for this idea of closing off certain streets on designated evenings in Downtown Oneonta to traffic to allow outdoor dining in the street.

This idea came about as a way to help restaurants who can only operate on a take-out basis currently. Restaurants will be allowed to open in Phase 3 of Governor Cuomo's plan of reopening regions in New York State and that won't happen until at least mid-June. I might add that even when restaurants are allowed to officially open their doors, how eager will people be to eat indoors with other people, even with social distanced tables? Personally, I would feel more comfortable eating outdoors and love this new idea of dining in the street! It seems like a great way to help local eateries and make consumers feel more comfortable about dining out.

Right now, the City of Oneonta allows restaurants to put tables outside on the sidewalk without a permit as long as there is still five feet of sidewalk for pedestrians. Considering the size of our sidewalks, that is fairly prohibitive. I have noticed only a couple of restaurants able to take advantage of this - Mama Nina's on Elm St. and Alfresco's on Main Street so if the city can work out this new idea of dining in street, I can see many businesses taking advantage of it. The ones that have already expressed interest to the city are Latte Lounge, Hill City Grill and WiseGuys Sammy’s.

Herzig tells AllOTSEGO, “It will be a while before restaurants can fully reopen. They won’t be able to operate as they did previously, they won’t be able to have a full house. Having outdoor seating allows restaurants to operate at greater capacity, while allowing people to feel safer.”

For more on this story from our publishing partner AllOTSEGO, click here.