“Our margins are so small already and every seat is a dollar sign,” he said.
The new patio guidelines follow discussion of a proposal by the Dayton City Commission on May 27.
“We’re trying to be as flexible as possible so that our restaurants can still see customers in order to support their businesses. And one of the ways we can do that is to allow them to expand where they might not have been able to expand into previously, like the sidewalk or a parking space on their street or on their own properties,” said Susan Vincent, planner with City of Dayton Departments of Planning and Community Development.
The city is giving guidelines for outdoor additions such as patio expansions, parklets (platform cafes) and pedlets (temporary walkways around expanded seating areas).
The city of Dayton said its new guidelines for outdoor dining and customer service areas will assist businesses in expanding seating capacity while meeting social distancing health and safety standards. City staff will help businesses with the application and permitting process, as well as guidance on public safety, construction, building materials and aesthetic appeal.
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The program was developed by city departments working with the Downtown Dayton Partnership. The DDP is working with Miller-Valentine Group, Requarth Lumber, Cross Street Partners, and other organizations and volunteers to make "starter kits" to help with creating outdoor seating, including planter boxes with posts and rope to connect the planters and mark off an outdoor seating area. The DDP is taking surveys online for those that want to reserve free starter kits at downtowndayton.org/pop-up-patio/.
It’s also a city-wide program available outside of the downtown and throughout the other neighborhoods, said Vincent.
Interested businesses my contact the City of Dayton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-333-3683, or go to daytonohio.gov/patio for more information.
Many other cities besides Dayton have taken this approach, allowing restaurants and bars to stretch out into the road, the sidewalk or other outdoor spaces. Cleveland Plain Dealer reported northeastern cities like Lakewood and Medina have taken steps to ease the ability to add outdoor seating. Cincinnati also has a pilot program of closing some streets to allow expanded outdoor dining and seating, WVXU reported.