Those who have enjoyed eating and drinking outdoors in Denver over the summer have another full year to dine al fresco on streets and sidewalks.
The city announced on Tuesday that its relaxed restrictions for expanded restaurant and bar patios will stay in place through October 2021. They were originally slated to expire at the end of October.
“We’re proud this program has been a lifeblood for expanded serving capacity to help keep Denver businesses open and their employees working,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said in a release. “We will work with restaurants and bars on creative models that allow them to extend this program through the cold weather months, while maintaining the strenuous protections in place to prevent COVID-19 transmission.”
To continue to take part, businesses will be able to request to extend patio expansions by three to four months to start. So far, 333 restaurants and bars have been approved in Denver to expand their patios, according to the city.
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And last week, new guidance on winter patios was released, with the city better defining indoor and outdoor dining spaces heading into winter months.
Restaurants around Denver already are starting to winterize their outdoor patios and indoor seating, too, with greenhouses, domes, yurts, igloos and more on the table as potential pandemic-friendly winter dining rooms.
On Larimer Square, one of the first streets to close down for outdoor dining over the summer, new restaurateur Michael Swift has been taking advantage of increased foot traffic by operating a Chinese food cart on the block. It’s a preview of his forthcoming restaurant and tea room, Bao Brewhouse, which will open around the corner on 14th Street next month.
Swift said he hopes the relaxed rules around outdoor dining will stay in place permanently. He’s even designed his new restaurant around food that can be eaten outdoors. And he would like to see restrictions loosened even more, so that restaurant and bar customers can legally walk closed-to-traffic streets with alcoholic drinks in hand.
Changes like these can be bright spots for businesses and consumers during an otherwise disastrous pandemic, he said. “Let’s give people the opportunity to do things they normally couldn’t do.”
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