Cambridge announces street changes for outdoor dining

Posted Wednesday, June 24, 2020 on Wicked Local. You can check out the article on Wicked Local here.

The city of Cambridge has worked closely with Cambridge Local First, the Central Square Business Improvement District, East Cambridge Business Association, Harvard Square Business Association and restaurants across the city to identify opportunities for the city to support restaurants by creating additional space for outdoor dining.

This work expands on the outdoor dining spaces that previously existed in Cambridge before COVID-19 and is made possible by increased flexibility in the state’s rules relative to permitting outdoor dining areas.

At permitted locations across the city, restaurants will be responsible for providing tables and chairs according to social distancing guidelines and sectioning off their outdoor dining areas each day. Due to liquor license requirements and to ensure that the tables are cleaned between each use, these new outdoor dining areas will be designated for use by the adjacent restaurants. Where possible, the outdoor dining areas may be used for loading or parking when they are not being used for dining.

“The city is working closely with restaurants to make flexible use of public space in order to expand opportunities for outdoor dining,” said City Manager Louis DePasquale. “As we have done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to support our local businesses as much as we can, while protecting the health and welfare of our residents, visitors and workforce.”

In Central Square, a new outdoor dining area will be created on the southwest side of Massachusetts Avenue between Norfolk and Brookline streets. In Harvard Square, outdoor dining areas will be implemented on Brattle Street, between Eliot and Church streets; on Palmer Street — which already operates a shared street; and on Bow Street, between DeWolfe and Plympton streets.

In Inman Square, on Cambridge Street, from Springfield Street to Prospect Street, street space will be reallocated to create new outdoor dining areas and back-in angled parking. As a result of these changes, Cambridge Street will be one-way in the westbound direction — towards Harvard — for motor vehicles. Eastbound motor vehicles will be directed to use a detour route of Hampshire and Prospect streets.

The city is still working with the MBTA to finalize information about the changes to bus stops for Route 69 passengers traveling towards Lechmere. People walking and biking may continue to go in both directions on Cambridge Street, as will emergency vehicles.

All of these changes have been reviewed by the city’s public safety departments and have also been coordinated with the License Commission, the Inspectional Services Department, the Law Department, the Department of Public Works and other “key stakeholders.”

In addition to these more significant changes, the city is in the process of reviewing and approving dozens of additional applications for expanded outdoor dining on sidewalks and in parking lanes. Restaurants may begin using these spaces as soon as their permits are approved and they are able to get their outdoor dining set up.

More information about these changes and other street changes that are being implemented in response to COVID-19 may be found at

Cambridge Local First