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AMHERST, NY – Amherst Chamber of Commerce President/CEO A. J. Baynes announces a program to “Save Main Street” restaurants in Amherst as the region continues to reopen and looks to rebound during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Baynes is asking the Town of Amherst to waive permits and allow restaurants on Main Street in Williamsville and across the Town of Amherst to repurpose space on sidewalks, street-side parking areas and parking lots into outdoor dining areas.
“Our restaurants need to utilize all the resources they can to help bring back patrons to their businesses,” says Baynes. “With the summer season upon us, allowing more outdoor dining will help establishments enact social distancing while maintaining greater occupancy levels.”
The Western New York region is currently in Phase 1 of the reopening process. Barring any increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Phase 2 should begin by June 2 and Phase 3 by June 16. At that time, restaurants should be allowed to resume limited on premises dining.
The Town can help implement these “Flex Zones” by allowing for the temporary relaxing of permitting and licensing requirements, providing a quick and affordable way to make space for new uses, like pop-up dining or curbside pick-up zones.
This plan to create open-air cafes is already in use in some cities across the country, including Cincinnati (see
here), and the City of Buffalo is considering a similar program  to expand outdoor seating along Chippewa Street.
Chuck Mauro, owner of four restaurants, including 800 Maple, Siena and Rocco’s Wood Fired Pizza in Amherst says he desperately needs to expand outdoor dining if he wants to make up for the business lost from the pandemic shutdown.
“Social distancing and limited indoor capacity requirements will severely hamper the number of customers we can serve,” says Mauro. “Making the most of the summer season will be key to keeping my restaurants afloat.”


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