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Westport Approves First Pop-Up Cafes for Downtown

WESTPORT, Conn. – Al fresco dining soon will be added to the menus of Acqua Ristorante and La Villa Trattoria, two restaurants in downtown Westport, after the Board of Selectmen Friday approved pop-up cafes at both eateries.

A policy allowing the creation of pop-up cafes and seating areas along one-way streets in the downtown area was approved by the selectmen in March , eight months after Planning and Zoning Commissioner Howard Lathrop and Jennifer Johnson, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, first pitched the idea .

These two restaurants are the first downtown merchants to make use of the new policy.

“We’re very excited about having the opportunity to build a little oasis on a big piece of asphalt,” Ramze Zakka, owner of Acqua Restaurant, told the selectmen Friday morning during a special public meeting.

Unlike traditional outdoor dining already found in Westport, pop-up cafes are created in converted curbside parking spaces outside the business. The Acqua café will be built in the Parker-Harding Plaza parking lot, using three spaces in front of the restaurant, Zakka said. It will seat a total of 32 people among 12 tables.

Construction on a wooden deck that will make the café level with the curb will begin as soon as possible, and planters to go around the café are ready to be shipped, Zakka said. He said he expects to have the café up and running in as soon as 10 days.

The café approved for La Villa Trattoria will be constructed along Bay Street and will consist of 20 seats among five tables. Michael Sornatale, the restaurant’s owner, told the selectmen he hopes the café will draw more foot traffic to his restaurant and surrounding businesses.

“This will be a benefit for Westport,” Sornatale said. “Right now, nobody’s walking, especially at night, there’s no one around. So we’re trying to get more people walking.”

Under the town’s policy, although these cafes will be on town-owned property, they will be paid for by the merchants. Pop-up cafes will be exclusively for patrons of the owning restaurant, while pop-up seating areas will be public.

The cafes are allowed to be in place from April 1 to Nov. 1

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