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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Easton restaurant outdoor dining fee hiked up to 500 percent

The deadline to apply for Easton Alfresco is March 31. (Photo courtesy of Lehigh Valley Business)

The fee for Easton Alfresco, a program that allows restaurants to utilize street parking spaces for outdoor dining, has been substantially raised by the City of Easton’s Department of Community and Economic Development.

The program fee, which covers outdoor seating from May to October of this year, was raised by 433 percent from $750 to $4000 for restaurants that sell both food and alcohol. For businesses only selling food, the fee was raised by 500 percent from $500 to $3000. 

This fee increase will not apply to outdoor dining offered on sidewalks, which is managed by the Department of Codes and Planning.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, fees for Easton Alfresco were greatly reduced as part of Easton’s business recovery strategy. According to Easton councilman John Kingsley, director of community and economic development, this year’s price increase is in part an attempt to recuperate some of the program’s administration costs now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted. 

“There are several costs associated with it,” Kingsley said of the program.

Kingsley cited the cost of the public works department building the outdoor dining spaces as one component that requires funding. He added that parking revenue had lowered, so the city is “trying to recapture some of that lost parking revenue.” 

The increased fees do not fully account for the program’s cost of administration, according to Kingsley. The price businesses pay for their space is over a 50 percent discount off the maximum amount of parking revenue that could be earned from each. 

“We are not recouping all of the costs or lost revenue associated with this program, but we are doing a better job of it, and being fair to the businesses in the same instance,” Kingsley added. 

Applications for Easton Alfresco close on March 31. According to Sean Ziller, the community and economic development administrator, it is still too early to tell if the fee increase has impacted the number of businesses applying for the program. 

“Last year, I think we had 11 businesses,” Ziller said. “One of them had to close their season early, so it was down to 10 … we don’t necessarily anticipate that 10 again.” 

Multiple employees and managers from Easton restaurants that had outdoor dining spaces last year declined to comment or could not be reached for comment.

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Makenna McCall, Staff News Writer
Tall, left-handed and stupid.

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  • F

    Fred K.Mar 22, 2024 at 6:59 pm

    I think what they should do is charge the fee but then give most of the fee back at the end of the year , consumers are not going out due to inflation, I won’t want to see
    Any fees on anyone , including the recent flood fee as well as tax increases during a slowdown by the township is an overreach by government into the pockets of those folks on a fixed income.