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City Council makes positive changes for COVID-era restaurants

Outdoor cafes Dallas dining
“Dining along a pedestrian passage, Main Street Dallas” by Payton Chung is licensed with CC BY 2.0.

According to the Dallas Observer, Dallas City Council has approved a change that will affect city restaurants in a major way. Previously, restaurants were required to have at least one parking spot per one hundred to two hundred square feet of space1. Dallas eateries also had to have patio or outside seating areas be enclosed. City Council’s latest decision allows these businesses to bypass the old rules that limit actual eating space and make the most of their room.

The original rules were made to ensure that guests have easy parking at the city’s restaurants. In a state that prioritizes open space so much, this was an ideal situation for most restaurant guests in Texas, at least prior to the COVID era. In these times, the amount of restaurant guests tends to be at a minimum but their never seems to be enough space, especially since everyone must be six feet apart and it’s typically ideal to be seated outside.

City Council’s newest rule change will allow Dallas restaurants to expand their existing spaces and creep into the parking spots that they’ve had all along. The one caveat to that will be that, though the outdoor “parking lot” seating won’t be expected to be enclosed, it will be required to have a covering. Fortunately, that can be as simple as purchasing a tent for most restaurants.

Outdoor dining across the US

Outdoor seating has proved to be one of the most interesting challenges for modern restaurants in the United States, and it has brought out some ingenious solutions from the most creative of restauranteurs. The city of Chicago, Illinois, recently held a contest to see who could create the best outdoor dining setup for winter. Being the “windy city” and being located in the upper Midwest, Chicago has multiple challenges when it comes to its outdoor dining, but it is not alone. In multiple areas across the country, outdoor heaters are nearly impossible to find. Others that are located in warmer climates have been more fortunate, but still face the challenge of making the most of their space. In virtually every city in the US, restaurants have been rushing (and struggling) to keep up with the sudden changes required of them.

Possibly one of the most creative new concepts in the restaurant scene is the invention of the outdoor parking spot patio. In other cities, dining spots have taken advantage of all the space they can by transforming their parking spots into unique eating areas. Some have gone as far as getting permission from their local governments to use city-owned parking that’s extremely close by.

A short-term solution

According to City Council, the new rule will be in place until April 2021 and will hopefully bring back some of the industry’s customers. The change may end up lasting even longer, but we aren’t certain yet. We have yet to see what’ll happen with Dallas’s restaurants now that the change has taken place, but we have no doubt that the city’s restauranteurs will bring their best when it comes to their new freedom – especially given the innovation we’ve seen in the Dallas restaurant industry so far.

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