HAMILTON, NJ -- Hamilton Township Mayor Jeff Martin is convening a group of local restaurant and eatery owners. The effort, he said, is to encourage opportunities to work together as indoor dining reopens and outdoors dining continues. Indoor dining was set to reopen at 25 percent of each establishment's capacity on Friday. 

"These are difficult times. We are here to help," Martin said, adding that the gathering will be an opportunity for business owners to share their concerns so that officials can address needs.

The in-person meeting will be held outside under the Pavilion at Kuser Park located at 390 Newkirk Avenue in Hamilton Township between 10:00am and 11:30am on Thursday, September 10. 

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According to the agenda input will also be sought on establishing a Permanent Outdoor Dining Ordinance for 2021, An open discussion allowing for owners to ask questions will also take place.

In preparing for indoor dining to reopen, Antonio Carannante of Blend Bar and Bistro, told TAPinto Hamilton/Robbinsville that they are taking it "one day at a time" after indoor dining has been closed for almost six months. The popular eatery on Route 33 has extended its outdoor seating area and provided take-out services in lieu of indoor dining.

Carannante said he would like to continue outdoor dining at Blend but initial permits for the space were only issued until November. 

"Outdoor dining is pleasurable and has been enjoyable. It is new to many in Hamilton but is all over Europe.  But, it's not consistent and it's more complex than people make it out to be," said Carannante. "Outdoor dining has been better than nothing. We would like to exercise the option to continue but it's not a permanent solution." 

Blend has been able to keep its employees who are willing to work during the pandemic.

"As a business owner, I don't want customers or employees getting sick. We are doing the best of our ability to be the cleanest, safest establishments," said Carannante, who noted that the restaurant inside has been thoroughly sprayed and sanitized in anticipated of indoor diners. He encourages patrons with any possible coronavirus-type symptoms to stay home or use take-out food services. 

Restaurant or eatery owners who would like to participate in the Mayor's roundtable can email their name, phone, email and business name to KKane@HamiltonNJ.com.

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