‘An investment very much worth making’: Providence plans to make Al Fresco on the Hill a tradition

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ If you didn’t get the chance to check out Al Fresco on the Hill last year, you’ll now have more than enough opportunities to do so.

Rick Simone, the executive director of the Federal Hill Commerce Association, announced Friday that the popular outdoor dining event will return next month and run through October.

Beginning May 14, the city will close a portion of Atwells Avenue to traffic on Fridays and Saturdays from 5-11 p.m. so participating restaurants can expand their dining rooms, Simone said.

The European-style dining event launched last year as a way to allow restaurants — especially those with tiny eateries or no outdoor patio — to serve more seated parties while remaining spaced out due to the pandemic.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that last year’s Al Fresco on the Hill saved a few restaurants,” Providence City Councilwoman Rachel Miller said Friday.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said he ultimately wants to make Al Fresco an annual tradition.

“We see people love it so we want to invest in this in a sustainable way so that it eventually becomes permanent,” he said.

“I am very confident and feeling very optimistic that, as the weather starts to turn and people want to be outside, they are going to come back to our city and places like here in Federal Hill in droves,” Elorza continued.

This year, Simone said around two dozen restaurants will be participating and guests will once again have to make reservations in advance.

“As the season progresses, we will be able to add entertainment and we will be spreading it out so it really begins to feel like a European-style of Al Fresco,” he said. “Very peaceful, very enjoyable. We think the entertainment will add to it.”

Elorza hopes they’ll eventually be able to further expand the event to other parts of the city.

“When you can walk on the street, there’s music, good weather and you can walk around with a drink, it’s about the spirit of being free and a certain liberty that comes with it,” he said. “We see this as an investment very much worth making and an investment that will make dividends long into the future.”

Here is the initial list of restaurants that will be participating:

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Providence

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