Mixed Feelings as Outdoor Dining Returns Thursday

By Chris Wangler
May 23, 2023


Should outdoor dining this summer be available earlier in the week or only from Thursday afternoon to Sunday at 11:00 p.m.?

It’s one of several lingering questions as the city prepares to close down part of Moody Street on Thursday.


This year’s new “hybrid” closure plan doesn’t exactly enjoy glowing support, but many restaurants are returning [see list below] amid support for better long-term planning in the future.

Compromise Plan

Last month, the Waltham Traffic Commission voted 4–1 for a modified version of Mayor Jeannette McCarthy’s plan to close down part of Moody Street this summer.

From May 25 until September 25, Moody from Pine to High will be open as usual for two-way traffic from Monday to Thursday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.


The street will be closed from then until Monday at 5:00 a.m. to allow for outdoor dining and pedestrian use.

Moody will also remain closed on three holiday Mondays: Memorial Day, Juneteenth and Labor Day.


The tweaked plan is a post-COVID hybrid, instead of the 24-7 closure from the last three summers.

The previous shutdowns upset some small business owners as well as residential abutters, mostly over loss of coveted parking spaces.


The mayor tried to appease them while supporting restaurants and those advocating for a pedestrian zone.

While her new plan represented a political victory over her prospective mayoral opponent Jonathan Paz, it drew a mixed reaction among both closure supporters and opponents [see video above].

Paz, the current Ward 9 city councilor, said the commission’s vote failed to reflect strong support during public hearings for his proposal to simply repeat last year's closure. 

He expressed confidence that Moody businesses could adapt to the “very very limited format,” but said it was “a shame that the mayor decided to complicate a good concept.”

Sticking Points

During this year’s closure, restaurants will be able to leave their furniture in permitted parking spaces behind sturdy Jersey barriers all summer. But they can only serve guests when the street is closed to traffic.

Traffic commissioner Randy Mullin, Waltham’s fire chief, said it would be unsafe for traffic to be on the street alongside diners, and the commission supported him.

Mullin also recommended that dining happen only within parking lanes, not in travel lanes, meaning a smaller footprint this summer for outdoor dining spaces.


Restaurant owners, such as Jay Singh [right in photo] of Peppino’s Dosa and DaVinci Ristorante, were disappointed by the restrictions.

Not only would no dining outside happen early in the week, but affected parking spaces could not be used by cars because they would be occupied by unused restaurant furniture.


During a traffic commission discussion last week, member Tim Kelly, the director of the city’s wires department, said he had witnessed safe outdoor dining in Arlington and North End with moving vehicles nearby. 

Kelly added that the Waltham License Commission, not the Waltham Traffic Commission, ultimately has jurisdiction over extension of premises and the related times.

But Waltham licensing officials, who will meet Wednesday to approve this year’s permit applicants, are not expected to change the current rules.

Looking Ahead

In spite of the new limitations, many familiar favorites have applied to open outside again this summer: 


Bistro 781

DaVinci Ristorante

Deep Ellum (New)

Game Underground

In a Pickle

Little India


Peppino’s Dosa

Solea Tapas & Bar

Sweet Basil




Some that operated outside previously (Tara, Guanachapi, Joco’s) did not apply, nor did some of the new Asian restaurants on Moody.


As the 2023 Moody shutdown prepares to start, there’s no denying that this year’s closure process has been confusing and complicated, reflecting a new post-COVID reality. 

To offer a better plan moving forward, the city is poised to seek outside help to collect feedback from all stakeholders and come up with new alternatives.


“One of the best things that came from the traffic commission meeting was the approval of an RFP to hire a consultant to help the city see what the future holds,” said optimistic Tempo co-owner Erin Barnicle, shown with her husband Nate Sigel. 

“There’s an incredible amount of opportunity,” she said.

File photos