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Ways to Add/Expand Outdoor Dining During COVID-19 - A Guide for DTR Businesses


Ways to Expand Outdoor Dining During COVID-19: A Guide for DTR Businesses

To help provide information on expanded outdoor dining options in Downtown Raleigh, we are sharing the following information and processes. 

Are you a restaurant, coffee shop, wine shop, brewery, or bottle shop interested in adding or expanding your outdoor dining to provide more options for customers and increase your sales opportunities during COVID-19? The City of Raleigh has created a simplified and broader process for temporary outdoor dining extensions during this time. Review the five options below to determine what solution would work best for your business.* Learn more about the City's temporary outdoor dining extensions at this website which also includes links to their Guide, Application, FAQs and information on insurance requirements.

Option 1: Expand into Sidewalk

You can now go beyond the frontage of your business with additional tables and chairs while keeping a pedestrian right-of-way and can keep your on-street parking/curbside pick-up. When you apply through the city, check the "City Sidewalk" option in the application here. You will need certificate of insurance, indemnity agreement, ABC permit if serving alcohol, Health Department letter, and a sketch of where your additional seating will be. You can provide a maximum of 50% of your indoor occupancy in outdoor seating. So, if your normal (pre-COVID) occupancy is 100 people, you can allow up to 50 seats in outdoor seating.

  • Simple, straightforward way to expand seating quickly
  • Requires maintaining proper pedestrian path on sidewalk
  • Need permission of neighbors if placing tables in front of their buildings
  • Cost: additional furniture if needed

Option 2: Parklet

A parklet provides potentially more space for outdoor dining than Option 1, allowing for drinking and dining in an adjacent on-street parking space. This could be a great option for businesses on narrow sidewalks and the City allows up to two spaces to be used for temporary parklets per business. Note that the City is allowing for "temporary parklets" whereby the City provides the barricades at no cost, but the parklet must be removed when this program ends later this year. If you'd like a more permanent parklet, then you must go through the regular parklet program. When applying through the City for temporary parklet, click "Parklet" as your option. You will need certificate of insurance, indemnity agreement, ABC permit if serving alcohol, Health Department letter, and a sketch of where your additional seating will be. You can provide a maximum of 50% of your indoor occupancy in outdoor seating. So if your normal (pre-COVID) occupancy is 100 people, you can allow up to 50 seats in outdoor seating. 

  • Free barriers provided by City to separate dining area from traffic as long as supplies last; No cost for taking over parking space
  • Business owner may need to provide for ADA ramps for parklet accessibility if business does not have other dining space that is ADA accessible and will need to cover costs of extra furniture if not already owned 
  • Possible Challenge: could replace curbside pick-up space if there are not enough nearby parking spaces to accomodate both a parklet and curbside zone; depends on conditions

Option 3: Pedlet

What is a pedlet? A pedlet is when the pedestrian walkway (normally on the sidewalk) is rerouted from the sidewalk to on-street parking space to allow for outdoor dining to fill the entire sidewalk area in front of the business, up to 50% of the businesses' indoor capacity. Depending on your business and sidewalk, this option could provide more space than a parklet for outdoor dining. 

  • Free barriers provided by City to separate dining area from traffic, as long as supplies last; No cost for taking over parking space
  • Business owner must provide for ADA ramps for pedlet accessibility (if this is an issue, let DRA know and we may be able to help)
  • Possible Challenge: Could replace curbside pick-up space if not enough nearby parking spaces to accommodate both options. City staff could provide more guidance here.

Option 4: Neighboring Parking Lot

If you are interested in providing outdoor dining on a neighboring parking lot, please contact the property owner of the lot directly. The lot needs to be directly adjacent to the business in order to allow for full food and beverage service. The City of Raleigh is still requesting an application be filled out for tracking purposes; however, the five items/documents listed below are not needed for submission. When applying, click "Private Parking Lot" for this option.

  • Expand quickly into nearby parking lot
  • Requires lot to be adjacent to current premises so may not be applicable

Option 5: Street Closure

Street closures for outdoor dining will be treated similarly to a special events permit. To learn more, please contact hospitalitypermits@raleighnc.gov .

  • Requires coordination and consideration of neighbors and access due to closed streets. Some neighboring businesses may prefer keeping street open for curbside access
  • Street must be directly adjacent to current premises

Note for all options: Social distancing must be maintained so groups/tables are set 6 feet apart. Must not block access to public amenities (trash cans), public utilities, crosswalks, building entrances or bus stops.


Questions about what option is best for you? Give us a call, and we'd be glad to talk through options that would work best for you and your business. Every downtown business is unique and what works best for one restaurant, may not be the best option for another. Please reach out to Will Gaskins, DRA Director of Economic Development & Planning, at willgaskins@downtownraleigh.org or 919.821.6988.

Questions about how to lay out and design your new dining space? Reach out, and we'll connect you with local architecture firms who have volunteered their time and expertise to help downtown small businesses. Please contact Will Gaskins at willgaskins@downtownraleigh.org or 919.821.6988.
 

Next Steps


So you've decided on your preferred option, now what? The City of Raleigh has simplified the application process but there's still a checklist of items to have ready (many you may already have!) when you submit your application:

  1. Certificate of Insurance and Additional Insured Endorsement
    - List City of Raleigh as additional insured
    - Insurance requirements for Private Use of Public Space (PUPS) permits available here       
      
  2. Signed indemnity agreement
    - Download the PDF here 
     
  3. Existing Wake County Health Department approval letter (if applicable)
     
  4. Existing NC ABC Permit (if applicable)
     
  5. Simple sketch plan of outdoor seating area denoting ADA accessibility ramps 

 Once you've collected those items, visit the City's website and fill out the application HERE