PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Al Fresco dining on Federal Hill will look much different this year.
That’s because the Federal Hill Commerce Association has decided to limit the number of days Atwells Avenue is closed to traffic.
Rick Simone, president of the Federal Hill Commerce Association, tells 12 News that members will meet Tuesday to vote on one of three scenarios for this year’s Al Fresco.
Those scenarios include offering Al Fresco one Saturday each month, two Saturdays each month, or every Saturday.
Simone said Fridays are being cut regardless since members have already voted in favor of nixing them.
The European-style dining event launched three years ago 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.
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While Al Fresco was first introduced to help businesses, some restaurant owners think it’s run its course.
“A lot of our patrons can’t get to us,” Fracois Karam, owner of OPA Restaurant said. “You have to walk around to find parking … we’re not happy with that.”
Karam tells 12 News he’s compiled a list of 20 businesses on Federal Hill that oppose outdoor dining.
“I don’t like it,” Manny Maciel, owner of Premiere Perfumes said. “It affects my business negatively. The road’s closed for certain people, it’s not closed for other people. Every time they close the road down, it impacts my sales.”
It’s not just businesses feeling the impacts of the road closure. Karam said he’s heard from residents who are also frustrated.
“Some people are benefitting, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not fair to everyone on Federal Hill,” he said.
Simone said the event will be cut from 20 weeks to 14 this year.
“We think this year’s changes, no matter what, will have accommodations,” Simone said.
Armando Bisceglia, owner of Bacco Vino & Contorni, tells 12 News he loves Al Fresco.
“You get to come out, there’s music playing and people dancing … the restaurants are packed,” he said. “If you’re in the restaurant business, that’s what we’re here to do.”