New Hope restaurant and bar owners can’t wait until next Friday, when Bucks County is expected to move into the yellow phase of the state’s reopening plan, and they will be allowed to offer limited outdoor dine-in service to customers.
But the owners of New Hope’s riverfront complex, which encompasses the Bucks County Playhouse and Stella restaurant at the Ghost Light Inn, apparently aren’t waiting for the all-clear signal. Unlike the rest of New Hope, food lovers there are enjoying outdoor dining at chairs placed on a grassy square and along the promenade, where a large banner reads “Free New Hope.”
While the Playhouse announced it was canceling its 2020 season May 14, its Deck restaurant continues to operate on a take-out basis, as does Stella. The Ferry Market food hall under the same ownership on South Main Street is also offering outdoor dining on its waterfront patio.
But it’s the “Free New Hope” banner hanging from the promenade railing that irks some locals the most.
“New Hope has been free for as long as I remember,” said New Hope business owner Peter Markowicz. “Instead of that stupid sign, I would love to see a big sign saying ‘New Hope Free Parking!'”
“Why are chairs and tables allowed at the Playhouse/Stella compound?” asked Fran’s Pub owner Karen S. Meyers. “Apparently it’s okay because it’s private property. When my customers come in and park on my private property, they are asked to leave. Amazing how the bench on the side of my property was removed for some B.S. about not being able to sanitize it.”
New Hope Borough officials last month closed several public spaces and removed benches to stop visitors from using them as places to eat takeout food and picnic.
Spokespersons for Bucks County Playhouse and Ghost Light Inn were unable to be reached.