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New Port Richey debates the future of Railroad Square and possibly closing the road on weekends

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Posted at 6:30 PM, Feb 15, 2022

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Outside dining has been a lifeline for struggling businesses during the pandemic. It’s become so popular that some Tampa Bay area cities have decided to make it permanent in areas.

Now, New Port Richey may be joining them, at least on the weekends.

“Weekends in New Port Richey are hopping,” said developer, Austin Hanson.

According to him and some business owners it’s “hopping” because Railroad Square is closed on the weekends.

“It brings a lot of people to the area, and they love it,” he said.

Margo Fisher, the owner of Juan-A-Taco and Cerveza, said it’s been great for her business. She is one of many business owners pushing for the city to continue shutting Railroad Square down every weekend. Also, according to Fisher, the bands playing out here is a big draw.

“People don’t normally come back here,” she said. “The sound from the bands, they hear them and they want to come back to see where it’s coming from. They want to know what’s going on.”

While this works for some businesses, there are others who said it doesn’t work for them.

“It hurts my business,” said Gerald Kuss.

Kuss is the owner of Rosie’s Bistro. The parking lot for his business is behind the building. It’s on Nebraska Ave, where the road is closed.

“When they close the street my customers don’t have access to the parking lot,” he said. “They come and see the barricades and they won’t stop.”

All hope isn’t lost though. Kuss said he could get behind the idea to close the road as long as it doesn’t impact the parking lot.

“I have no problem with the outdoor seating. I have no problem with the street being closed,” he said. “Just don’t cut off access to my parking lot.”

City workers are still researching and putting together a proposal. It will take a few months before a decision is made.