Officials in Sag Harbor are grappling with the legal issues surrounding sidewalk dining at restaurants in the village. In response to complaints from the public, officials are demanding that the Hamptons Police Department be allowed to enforce “decorum” among outdoor diners.
“In past years I’ve been forced to see some disgusting displays of slovenly table manners,” said Meg Sanders, who spoke at a recent Hamptons Municipal Board meeting in favor of the new regulations. “Elbows on tables, chewing with mouths open, slurping hot beverages, scraping forks on the teeth—innocent people walking down the sidewalk shouldn’t be forced to look at this.”
Sanders proposed, and officials seemed amenable to, a Manners Code for sidewalk dining that would allow police to issue tickets to diners in violation of a prescribed list of minimum table manners requirements. An open meeting during which residents may submit their own ideas for proscribed table behavior is set for June 15.
“We’re not looking for Emily Post here,” Sanders said, explaining that Sag Harbor residents are really just looking to not “dry heave when passing certain restaurants.”
Wednesday’s meeting will be about setting an easily achievable bar for acceptable table behavior—”one that even the most piggish among us can manage,” according to Sanders and her supporters.
“It all seems reasonable enough,” the board said in a statement released Monday. “Really, no one wants to see food in someone’s mouth. Sag Harbor should be known for seafood, not ‘see food,'” the statement quipped, attempting to find some humor in this very serious local issue.
Attendees of the June 15 meeting are asked to bring examples of behavior that could be cause for police to ticket diners, or for a restaurant to remove them from sidewalk tables. The merits of each suggestion will be discussed and debated until a final list is create and put up for a vote by the board. Children may or may not be exempt from the new laws.