Denver extends restaurant seating in streets, sidewalks until 2022

Larimer Square has featured one of a handful of closed streets used for outdoor dining since last May, when Denver began permitting expanded outdoor seating for restaurants during pandemic-induced shutdowns and restrictions. (Courtesy of SideCar PR)

Denverites are getting another year to eat and drink in public right-of-ways.

In conjunction with a larger announcement about his administration’s post-pandemic economic recovery plan, Mayor Michael Hancock said Wednesday that the city will extend its program permitting restaurants and bars to expand outdoor seating for another year.

The program turned parking lots and sidewalks into additional seating for restaurants struggling with coronavirus capacity limits. In a few cases, entire streets have closed for a block.

The program was to expire in October, but will now last through at least October 2022, Hancock said.

The permit has been granted to more than 300 eateries and watering holes since launching in May. Of those, about 170 included permitted access to the public right-of-way, including sidewalks and streets.

Right-of-way encroachment permits require renewal every 90 days. Others, which just involve adding seating in privately owned parking lots, for example, have to be renewed every 120 days.

Ashley Kilroy, Denver’s director of Excise and Licenses, said the effort is key to the rejuvenation of Denver business corridors — including downtown.

“How do we get people back to work and downtown?” Kilroy said. “We’ve seen the outdoor patio program is very successful. We’ve heard it’s a lifeline. It allowed restaurants to keep employees employed.”

Six Denver streets have been closed at times for outdoor seating, according to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure:

  • • Glenarm Place between 15th and 16th streets
  • • Larimer Street between 14th and 15th streets (Larimer Square)
  • • Larimer Street between 27th and 28th streets and between 29th and 30th streets
  • • Pennsylvania Street between Bayaud Avenue and Ellsworth Avenue
  • • 7th Avenue between Grant and Sherman streets
  • • 35th Street between Wynkoop and Wazee streets (Zeppelin Station)

A DOTI spokesperson told BusinessDen that there are no pending permit requests to close additional streets for dining.

“We’re really excited about extending the patio program for another year,” Kilroy said. “We really think it can help a lot. No. 1 is to stimulate the economy and get people downtown. We think it’s a good option.”

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