Resaturants to Get Creative With Outdoor Dining Space

Resaturants to Get Creative With Outdoor Dining Space Click to Enlarge Photo: Unsplash

(KNSI) - Bars and restaurants around Minnesota are getting ready to start serving customers, but only for outdoor dining, and only for 50 people at a time.

What if an establishment doesn't have space? They're going to have to get creative.

Ray Harrington, owner of area restaurants like the 7 West Taphouse and the Boulder Taphouse and advocate for the downtown business community, says the city of St. Cloud has been extremely accommodating.

"Things look really positive. They're going to do everything they can to help us out. The city has been very gracious and been very willing to try different things and some new things just to help their tax base get generated."

The idea of using public spaces such as parking lots, ramps, sidewalks, and streets as dining areas came about from Stillwater, who made their plans public even before the governor announced that in-person dining would resume, but only outside.

"We thought that was a great idea, so we got a hold of the mayor, and we were going to have a little informal meeting with the mayor, and it turned into a large meeting with some other city officials and all of downtown, we got together. The city basically just said, 'what do you guys want to do? And we'll help wherever we can' and so we kind of laid out a plan with the city, and we're going to run with that one."

The plan includes using sidewalk and street space.

"So we're going to build a fire lane down the middle of the road, and then section off the parts in front of our stores that goes out to the fire lane. So we're going to use the parking lanes and one of the driving lanes on the other side of the street. Just to expand our sidewalk seating, because we can get up to 50 people each."

He is also asking customers to be prepared. Eating at your favorite spot will look different from the last time you were there.

"Still have to remember we have to have our six feet social distancing. There's a requirement in the governor's new orders for reservations. Even for just, like, bars, you have to have a reservation. So there's all kinds of crazy things we still have to deal with, and the rules just came out last night, so all of us are trying to just digest those rules."

Other rule changes include four unrelated people per table or six for a family, and masks will be required for both patrons and staff.

Restaurants and bars were closed by the governor on March 17th.