Third Thursday organizers seek to smooth way for cafe dining at July event

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PITTSFIELD — Third Thursday organizers are encouraging the North Street restaurants to provide cafe dining for the July celebration — but those that serve alcohol will need a special license.

The city plans to ask the 14 eateries between Park Square and Maplewood Avenue if they are interested in setting up tables and chairs on the sidewalk fronting their establishments.

The outside dining would fit nicely with July's theme of food, according to Shiobbean Lemme of the Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development.

"We think this will be a revenue generator for the restaurants," she said.

Lemme approached the Pittsfield Licensing Board on Monday with the idea, which would require participating restaurants to obtain a temporary liquor license for the three-hour event.

The board seemed supportive of the idea, provided restaurants are willing to participate.

"It makes more sense to have the businesses come forward before us to ask for the one-day permit," said board member Dana Doyle. "I appreciate you have reached out ahead of time."

Interested restaurants along the Third Thursday route should contact the Cultural Development Office, which intends to seek a single, one-day liquor license to cover the collective group.

The official request for the temporary license would have to come before the board June 27 prior to the July 21 event. The restaurants will also be asked to provide a plan showing the layout of the seating.

A city ordinance allows cafe dining of up to three tables and 10 chairs, provided the seating area can be cordoned off and not impede pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks.

In its 10th season, Third Thursday is Pittsfield's monthly downtown festival of food, entertainment and special activities from 5 to 8 p.m. from May to September. The event draws thousands of people to the city center, and the cafe dining proposal is an attempt to capitalize on the large crowds.

"We're trying to expand things to make it more beneficial to the businesses," Lemme said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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