Neptune Township rescinds outdoor dining, entertainment permits given out during pandemic
A Monmouth County pizza shop owner was able to keep his business open during the pandemic. But he is now fighting to stay in business.
Many businesses across New Jersey were forced to shift their business plans when the COVID-19 stay-at-home order was implemented. Restaurants were forced to go from dine-in services to offering takeout and outdoor dining.
“We put every dollar we had into this outside lot. It literally was something that was just a last hope,” says Delvetto's Pizzeria & Pub owner Vinny Ferrara.
Ferrara’s restaurant opened just before the pandemic hit, crippling businesses around New Jersey.
“We were able to do takeout, but that’s not enough to pay the bills. We were literally scrambling, trying to pay the bills, making absolutely nothing,” Ferrara says.
Ferrara says that the restaurant got what felt like a lifeline in June when outdoor dining and entertainment permits were OK’ed by both Neptune Township and the state through November 2022. Delvetto's shifted again, adding outdoor performances.
“I probably reached out to all these – probably over 100 different bands, local bands. ‘Hey, you want to play in my parking lot?’” Ferrara says.
The “Tiki Lot” was born. But Ferrara says that as of June 6, Neptune Township is rescinding all outdoor entertainment permeants. Outdoor dining permits will be rescinded by Labor Day. The permits were all temporarily issued during the pandemic to help businesses stay afloat.
“It’s the only thing keeping us alive and together,” Ferrara says. “We’re struggling and fighting every single day just to pay the bills.”
Some customers say that they prefer to eat outdoors, especially since COVID-19 still remains a threat in the state.
“I’m not going to be comfortable with being inside at that point,” says Sarah White, of Red Bank. “It seems like a really backward step.”
Other customers say that the outdoor concerts brought the community together.
"A lot of our neighbors all in the area would meet here and the kids would have pizza, they'd have live entertainment,” says Jill Tramontano, of Neptune. “I'm very disappointed. I think it was a bad decision on Neptune's part."
Ferrara says that if the permits are rescinded, he may have to let some employees go because they are anticipating smaller crowds for dine-in.
News 12 New Jersey reached out to the township and to the business administrator for comment but did not hear back.