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General Store plans for outdoor dining with tables, patio

The General Store may soon be bustling again, thanks to a new layout for outdoor dining approved by the Select Board at its June 16 meeting. The General Store’s owner, Scott Hayward, submitted a diagram proposing an expansion of his outdoor dining area, and the Select Board gave him the go-ahead on that and the construction of a new patio.

Hayward’s diagram shows 11 picnic tables arranged at least 6 feet apart in the area between the General Store and the Congregational Church. He discussed tentative plans to install a stone patio over part of this area to accommodate the setup.

According to the written proposal, the dining area will be separated from the parking lot by a perimeter of ropes strung between planter baskets, and the parking lot itself will be used either for overflow seating, carhop service, or socially distanced community activities.

At night, Hayward proposes that the dining area be lit either by string lights or candles to allow diners to see their plates without creating light pollution for the neighbors, and there will be no amplified music. Protection from sun and rain would be added, since diners will not be allowed inside.

Under the proposed setup, the kitchen would be outside as well, with grills manned by two chefs to accommodate the new menu and the expected patronage.

The dining system described in the proposal is is designed to provide diners a completely contactless experience. Customers will make a reservation online, which will be confirmed by staff. Orders can be made ahead of time or from a customer’s phone once seated.

Upon arrival, people would seat themselves at designated tables. Grill chefs would call out orders as they became ready, and customers would pick them up themselves at a pickup table. Cash payments would not be accepted, as all transactions would happen over the phone or online.

The policy would be strictly “no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service,” though masks will be available for sale at the store. Once seated, patrons would be allowed to remove their masks.

Despite state guidelines allowing restaurants to resume limited indoor dining services as of June 22, Hayward does not have any plans to do so. He said in an email that he believed the store’s outdoor plan would be “safer and more commercially feasible than trying to dine inside with limited capacity.”

Hayward plans to eventually serve all three meals but may begin by offering only breakfast and lunch and adding dinner later on. He has permission from the Select Board to operate between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. daily, with alcohol service from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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