Friday, May 4, 2012

Outdoor dining regulations - are they helping or hurting your downtown efforts?

From Lombard, IL come some enlightened efforts  to support outdoor dining as a way to further spur downtown revitalization. [Daily Herald, "Lombard waives outdoor dining fees fordowntown eateries"]

The changes were the result of a request by the Lombard Town Centre Executive Director. After some discussion, town Trustees "agreed to waive the fee for downtown eateries seeking outdoor dining permits for this summer and to remove the requirement that a meal must be provided with all alcoholic beverages served outside." 

I have worked in a number of communities that are hesitant to make changes or to simplify their outdoor dining regulations for fear that adults drinking (without food service) will result in loud and perhaps somewhat raucous activity. Yet inadvertently, these regulations often end up hurting downtown revitalization efforts by keeping exciting activity and energy out of sight and out of mind. Communities sometimes forget that there are ways to control and regulate outdoor drinking - and it was nice to see Lombard seek out these reasonable solutions. 

The new rules are as follows: "Under the new regulations, outdoor dining hours cannot last longer than an eatery's indoor hours and must end by 12:30 a.m. after Sunday through Thursday nights and 1:30 a.m. after Friday and Saturday nights. Music provided for outdoor diners must end by 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and by 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday."

For communities concerned about allowing outdoor drinking without food, these regulations might offer an interesting alternative to a ban on outdoor drinking without food service.

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