WAYNE, NJ – Summer is here, the school year has ended, and the warm/hot weather is upon us.  It’s the time for outdoor dining in the gloam of a setting sun on a beautiful summer night. With indoor dining restrictions still in place, restrictions on outdoor dining have loosened up. This is a step in the right direction for the local restaurants that have been struggling to stay afloat.

Novelli Fine Cuisine on Hamburg Turnpike, like many restaurants, had to lay off most of their staff when the shutdown order came. But with their patio now offering outdoor seating, the owner Beni Karacica said: “I was able to bring them all back.”  

For a restaurant to legally offer outdoor dining, a permit from the Township was needed and restaurants would normally have to jump through many hoops with the regulations of the planning board, the health department and the Township council.  However, Mayor Vergano and the Wayne’s Council have arranged an expedited path to legal, safe, controlled outdoor dinging requirements for Wayne restaurants. 

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“The Township made it very easy for us,” said Paulino Marques, the owner of Villa Verde on Terhune Drive in Wayne. “We filled out an application, and they showed us how to do this properly and safely. We had several inspections, and we passed all of them.”

The rules are simple for patrons: Masks as you enter, exit or use the restrooms. Social distancing in place. All the staff are required to wear masks and gloves.

“It felt a lot more back to normal,” said Ray “Dee” Riker who was dining at Maggie’s Town Tavern.

With a grin of his own, he said: “There’s something to seeing other people smile.” “It just makes me feel better and happier.”

His friend, John Knick added: “The conversations of everyone around you is a wonderful background music that I haven’t heard in a long time.”

The permits are temporary, but Karacica hopes they can become more permanent. “It would be nice if we had more time to build something for this area,” he said, sweeping around the tented area in front of his restaurant. “We would make it in a beautiful style.”

On July 2, Murphy is allowing restaurants to host indoor dining at 25% capacity. “This, along with the outside seating, will help us tremendously,” said Marques. 

There was a tent set up in his parking lot as well, with approximately twelve white table-clothed tables and several patrons sitting in twos and fours talking happily. Beyond the tent, the light of day was slowly dissipating into night.

A little bit of yesterday was found out on a summer evening in Wayne.

As of this writing there are several restaurants/eateries that offer outdoor dining, however there are only thirteen that have either recently or have already been approved by Wayne Township.

Here’s the list:

  • Bahama Breeze  --  101 Route 23 South
  • Firehouse Subs  --  1050 Hamburg Turnpike
  • Grasshopper  --  26 Erie Avenue
  • In the Drink Restaurant  --  209 Totowa Road
  • Maggie’s Town Tavern  --  1080 Hamburg Turnpike
  • Meat Market Steak House  --  37 Berdan Avenue
  • Novelli’s  --  2410 Hamburg Turnpike
  • Palazzone 1960  --  190 Route 23
  • Taste of Tuscany  --  315 Valley Road
  • The Village Inn  --  422 Runnymede Drive
  • Viaggio  --  1055 Hamburg Turnpike
  • Vila Verda  --  120 Terhune Drive
  • Wendy’s  --  530 Route 46 East