Sunday, April 14

Will Delray Beach continue to allow added outdoor seating after COVID-19 pandemic?

Cities across Palm Beach County were forced to make changes during the COVID-19 pandemic to help their businesses stay open.Many municipalities allowed for things like extra outdoor seating, but after a year of these changes, what will stay for good?SPECIAL COVERAGE: Rebound South FloridaDelray Beach business owners on sounding off on what they would like to remain in place.Ocean Gardens, also known as the OG Bar, reopened with a new outdoor space in January.”It gives us the ability to host a lot more people in a better environment,” owner Brian Rosen said.Rosen said they have been able to triple their capacity with their new outdoor space, but right now it is only temporary.The city is allowing bars to use outdoor space with a special permit to help make up for losses related to COVID-19.”We would hope they’d possibly extend it for another year just to allow these businesses time to catch up,” Rosen said.Todd Herbst co-owns several restaurants along Atlantic Avenue. Last year the city started allowing businesses to set up more tables or retail outside.”I think we would like to see them stay, within reason,” Herbst said. “It did help.”Herbst said the extra tables outside created more business.Mayor Shelly Petrolia said these are things the city will have to examine as more people get vaccinated.”People really did embrace eating outside,” Petrolia said.She said the commission will have to look at keeping some of the changes or going back to pre-COVID regulations.”Is that going to change the footprint of how our business community operates in our downtown corridor?” she asked.No immediate changes are set to happen right now. A pilot program for the added outdoor seating for restaurants will expire in September. Some of the other programs the city implemented in the last year to help businesses included:Curbside pick-up zones.Temporarily relaxed sign codes, allowing restaurants to have banners to promote open for take-out and pick up dining, retail to promote being open, CDC safety guidelines etc.Temporary permit for stand-alone bars to use their outdoor spaceSuspension of payments at parking metersStorefront activation plan, including limited off-premise signage to help promote local businesses.

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