ROXBURY, NJ – It took COVID-19 to prompt Roxbury officials to allow something they never before permitted in the township: Outdoor table service at restaurants.

The township this week granted permits to several establishments allowing them to serve customers outside. Indoor dining remains prohibited under Gov. Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd said the township granted “temporary outdoor seating” permits to Anthony & Sons, Anthony Francos Pizza, Fuddruckers, Rose’s Luncheonette, Roxbury Diner and TGI Fridays. He said Muldoon's is also likely to get a permit.

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The ability to grant outdoor dining came from the Roxbury Mayor and Council’s June 9 adoption of a resolution. The resolution spelled-out the guidelines and said the council was doing so because restaurants “are an integral part of the local economies and social fabrics of municipalities,” and because the township “wishes to help its local businesses through this difficult time.”

Roxbury restaurateurs have, in the past, sought permission for outdoor table service, but the township has not allowed it.

“Yes, it is my understanding that Roxbury has not in the past permitted outdoor dining,” said Shepherd. “But with the COVID-19 pandemic, council was determined to assist the local restaurants as soon as permitted by the Governor.”

The manager said there is no guarantee this temporary reprieve means the council will permanently soften its stance on the matter. “I am not certain if the temporary outdoor dining will result in Roxbury amending the development ordinances to permit outdoor dining,” he said. “However, I believe that this summer will provide a nice test to see how well the outdoor dining is received and if we run into any problems.”

Working Quickly

Shepherd said the township staff worked hard to come up with the outdoor dining guidelines as quickly as possible. “Our biggest hurdle was developing the guidelines for the outdoor seating in a very short period of time,” he said.  Also, the governor issued an order which authorized temporary expansion of liquor licenses for the outdoor dining areas.”

He said Roxbury Police Chief Marc Palanchi and Roxbury Township Clerk Amy Rhead are reviewing and approving the liquor license expansion applications.

“Township staff, including zoning, health, police and fire prevention, have all processed the applications within a day of receipt,” Shepherd said. “We will be physically inspecting the locations and providing guidance to the business owner if there are any concerns.”

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