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Riverhead restaurants begin to submit applications for outdoor dining

Riverhead Town had already received six applications from restaurants seeking to add outdoor seating when the state allows starting next week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that outdoor dining would be allowed starting in Phase 2, which the Long Island region is on target to hit June 10.

Indoor seating for restaurants remains under Phase 3 of the state’s NY Forward plan.

“This is something we’ve been waiting for for a long time to happen,” said Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar of the possible re-opening of businesses. But she cautioned, “if we get a spike in deaths, the governor may close it, and all bets are off, unfortunately.”

As of Thursday morning, Riverhead Town received six applications for outdoor seating and approved three of them, according to town Building and Planning Administrator Jeff Murphree.

The three restaurants that were approved were Cooperage Inn in Calverton; Phil’s Restaurant in Wading River; and Jerry and the Mermaid in downtown Riverhead.

Digger’s, the Roadhouse, and Riverhead Ciderhouse also submitted applications, he said.

See also: New York’s outdoor dining guidelines

The Riverhead Ciderhouse application will be denied, Mr. Murphree said. 

“It’s not a restaurant,” he said. “It is a cider tasting facility that has accessory food service as required by the State Liquor Authority. … Wine tasting and cider tasting are not allowed to have waitstaff. And this would not give them permission to have waitstaff.”

Ms. Aguiar said the town is also considering possibly closing Main Street to traffic, possibly on the weekend, so that people can buy takeout food from local restaurants and then go out at tables and possibly tents set up at areas like the Peconic Riverfront. 

Having drive-in movies at certain locations like the riverfront parking lot, the Railroad Avenue parking lot and the lot behind Suffolk Theater also is being considered, she said. 

This would require a special permit from the town. 

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said the town would expedite the review of those proposals, but would not waive the fee “because there is a tremendous amount of review involved with planning for those types of events.” 

“If we are going to close off Main Street, we need to talk to the downtown businesses and figure out what hours work best for them, and how we’re going to make it happen,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said. 

Ms. Aguiar said Main Street is a state road and the town would need state approval to shut it.