Denver accepting proposals from restaurants that want to expand outdoors

Larimer Square is one part of town where restaurants have already taken over the street from time to time. (BizDen file photo)

Get ready for Denver’s dining rooms to spill outdoors.

The city on Monday said it is now accepting proposals from restaurants, bars and similar businesses that want to operate outside, adjacent to but beyond their typical footprint. That could mean taking over parking lots, sidewalks and even street space.

The goal of the temporary program is to allow for greater distancing between patrons. By accepting proposals now, the city hopes to have reviewed many by the time the state announces that dine-in restaurant service can resume.

“Business owners need time to prepare for re-opening, and we want to set them up for success as soon as dine-in becomes permissible again,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “We also want to ensure it’s safe for employees and customers to return to these businesses when that time comes.” 

In Denver, restaurants have been limited to preparing food for delivery or carryout since March 17. Many eateries have closed entirely.

Restaurants can learn more and submit proposals at denvergov.org/restaurantpermits. Once dine-in service is made legal again, restaurants whose proposals are approved will be able to operate in their extra outdoor space through Sept. 7, the city said. That date could be extended.

The online applicants asks, among other things, whether the requested outdoor space is private property or part of the public right-of-way, hours of operation within the space and the proposed number of tables.

The city said its review process will consider accommodations for safety, mobility, and local and emergency access. 

“Mayor Hancock and his team should be applauded for moving so quickly to get applications up for restaurants, bars and breweries to expand their outdoor premises as soon as the state allows for reopening,” said Andrew Feinstein of EXDO Development, who is co-chairing the Mayor’s Economic Relief and Recovery Council and worked on the patio expansion policy. “Anything we can do to get restaurants, bars and breweries open but also ensure safe distancing is a win-win for our community.”

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