New outdoor restaurant seating that has sprung up on new patios, in parking lots and along sidewalks in Colorado Springs due to coronavirus restrictions could be here to stay, even after pandemic rules are lifted.
In some cases, restaurants have spent time and energy on creative outdoor seating options that patrons enjoy, and city maps give owners the option of asking to keep them, Ryan Tefertiller said. , director of town planning.
“Some are well placed and have no impact on the parking supply and are comfortable and desirable for users … The city and planning would like to help restaurants continue to use these spaces,” he said declared.
The city expects to give restaurants 30 days after occupancy restrictions are fully lifted to apply to retain outdoor seating, he said.
City staff have issued around 30 permits to sit in the city right-of-way, for example along sidewalks, which are mostly found in downtown and Old Colorado, he said. declared. The city has also issued 45 permits outside to sit in other areas, such as parking lots, he said.
However, the need for outdoor seating to offset limited table space caused by the pandemic restrictions is unlikely to go away anytime soon, said Doug Price, president and CEO of Visit Colorado Springs. The number of COVID-19 cases in El Paso County and the percentage of people who test positive have been on the rise in recent weeks, according to El Paso County public health data.
âIt doesn’t look like the six feet of social distancing is going to be reduced,â he said.
Even when indoor seating restrictions are lifted, Kevin Dexter, co-owner of Shuga on Cascade Avenue, expects to offer his guests the ability to sit away from others and his new seating options at the exterior will help.
âI have a feeling that the trauma of the pandemic will last well beyond 2021,â he said.
Dexter set up a striking new teepee next to his restaurant during the winter months after examining igloos, tents and greenhouses. The tipi is both beautiful and has great air circulation, he said.
A long-term increase in outdoor table space is also welcome at Shuga, which had 14 tables during a pre-pandemic winter, creating longer wait times, he said. . The tipi will also create a welcome shelter from the rain in the summer, when guests sitting outside were often forced inside with their plates and glasses, he said. Dexter also doesn’t wait to make his seat permanent; he expects to request a waiver to retain the seats soon, he said.
At Lucky Dumpling on Wahsatch Avenue, the new gazebo-like pergola-covered patio was a project that began after the restaurant robbery and thieves took over the restaurant’s radiators and propane about two weeks ago, said owner Brother Luck. HBA Cares, the nonprofit arm of the Housing and Building Association, got involved to help with the construction after Luck posted about the theft on Instagram, he said.
He hopes that many restaurants will also keep their new terraces, he said.
âOutdoor seating has been the survival of most restaurants that are still open today,â he said.
In Luck’s case, the city has already granted the pergola permission to stand permanently, Tefertiller said.
In Old Colorado, 25th Street between Vino Colorado Winery at The Sweet Elephant and Mother Muff’s was blocked off for outdoor seating for months, and this especially helped when patrons were afraid to sit outside. interior, said Susan Quintana, owner of the winery. But the 30-foot tent that had been pitched in the winter proved problematic, especially it would be blown away, she said.
In the long run, she would prefer to sit customers in the curb parking spaces at tables covered with umbrellas and possibly surrounded by decorative fencing, she said. This model could allow the road to reopen and preserve the alfresco dining that customers want, she said.
Quintana contracted COVID-19 in January and this made her all the more aware of preventive measures, such as social distancing and wearing a mask, she said.
âI am very careful,â said Quintana, who is now vaccinated.
The increase in outdoor seating is also being incorporated into new restaurants downtown, such as the new White Pie Pizzeria on Nevada Avenue and a new beer garden on the same street, said Susan Edmondson, President and CEO of the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs.
âWhen we have more outdoor dining downtown, it is beneficial both for our independent restaurants and for adding vibrancy to the downtown environment,â she said.