Viva Fall River

Looking for more outdoor dining options in Fall River? New guidelines, grants should help

Aug 4, 2022 | Small Business, Viva Downtown


FALL RIVER — There may soon be more al fresco dining options coming to Fall River.

The city is thinking outside the box to give restaurant owners a chance to expand their business outside the building.

On Monday, Fall River released new guidelines for outdoor dining and a streamlined permitting process with the hopes of making it easier for businesses still recovering from the pandemic to “create or enhance areas that will add seating capacity to their establishment.”

Coupled with this effort, grants are being offered to all restaurants, cafés and food service businesses in the city.

All just in time to take advantage of the latter half of the 2022 outdoor dining season, which extends until Nov. 1.

“I know a lot of restaurants have seen success with outdoor dining … we just don’t have as many outdoor dining spots as some other cities so this is really meant to inspire people,” said Patti Rego, executive director of Viva Fall River, which will be administering the grants.

Creating opportunities for restaurants

The city’s latest endeavor aims to boost outdoor dining options, especially for those downtown or inner city businesses who perhaps overlooked the possibility in the past, Rego said.

“This money is more about helping people to imagine that things are possible that maybe they didn’t always imagine were possible,” she said.

Rego hopes local foodies will realize they don’t have to head to an often jam-packed waterfront site to have a fun outdoor dining experience.

“Outdoor dining doesn’t just mean waterfront dining … this is an opportunity for other restaurants to create these nice dining experiences that don’t necessarily have to be these big elaborate things,” Rego said.

Businesses can receive up to $2,000 to set up outdoor dining. Funds can be utilized for everything from construction materials to safety structures to furniture and lighting.

Who can get the grants

This funding is available through the city of Fall River along with MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative and is being administered through Viva Fall River and the Fall River Planning Department.

Grants are expected to be awarded to seven to 10 businesses on a first-come, first-served basis, so those considering it should just go for it, Rego said. It’s an easy application and it’s money they want to give away quickly, as the end of summer draws near.

“I think people should just dream big and see what they can make happen,” Rego said.

The application for the Outdoor Dining Grant Program can be found at

Aside from the grants, a large part of the city’s effort that’s been a year in the making is adopting new outdoor dining guidelines and making the permitting process easier to navigate.

Now all necessary materials can be found in one place on the city’s website.

According to Rego, Viva Fall River and the city, through TDI, have been working with three downtown businesses — Harry’s RestaurantNew England Homemade Donuts and T.A. Restaurant — to establish outdoor patio areas.

Read more about the new outdoor dining options here: