Emerald Isle considers sidewalk dinning

EMERALD ISLE, NC – Town officials are considering allowing sidewalk dining after a local restaurant’s request, a concept that gained popularity during the pandemic.

Emerald Isle officials discussed the potential change during a meeting Tuesday night.

“We have gone through a process,” said Chris Seaberg, the planning director. “With the board of commissioners and staff, we talked about how to mold it into what Emerald Isle is looking for.”

Restaurant managers, speaking with WITN on Tuesday morning, said they were hearing about the proposal for the first time but expressed interest. “There’s definitely a level of curiosity,” said Julian Johns.

Johns voiced concerns about the impact on pedestrians. “How are we going to cater to our customers and visitors without impeding their ability to walk on the sidewalk?” he asked.

Seaberg explained that regulations would need to be followed, including maintaining a six-foot clearance on sidewalks for pedestrian use.

“We require an opening on our sidewalk because it is there for the purpose of pedestrians,” he said. Restaurants would also need to remove tables and chairs each night.

While restaurants have questions, they are generally supportive of the town’s direction. Johns emphasized the importance of preserving the island’s character. “We’ve worked really hard to keep separate from Myrtle Beach. We have made it different.”

According to Seaberg, Fish Hut Grill initiated the request for sidewalk dining. WITN reached out to the restaurant, but they declined to comment on camera.