With the enthusiastic support of restaurant owners, the City Council approved outdoor patio service on public sidewalks year-round. Previously, outdoor tables were limited to the months of May through October. Restaurants will still need city permits from the Public Improvement Commission.

Privately-owned patios are not impacted by the ruling because alcohol licenses state the allowable period for outdoor patio service (usually May-October). However, the City’s decision for its permits could set a trend for new Licensing Board actions.

There are some concerns. Public works officials have identified the difficulty of snow removal with cafe tables and equipment outside year-round. The ruling is largely intended to allow sidewalk tables during the warmer days of April/November, but one wonders how outside service could be practical in January? Some narrower sidewalks get very crowded and this ruling might encourage more sidewalk tables than are practical. Residents surrounding cafes with outside tables are likely to protest the extra months of noise and the need for rodent control.

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