CLEVELAND (WJW) — With a second spring and summer living with COVID-19, the city of Cleveland is extending their Temporary Expansion Area (TEA) program, which allows restaurants to expand their outdoor dining areas, until Nov. 1.
“The application process was streamlined, everything went smoothly and it turned around very quickly and we’re getting all of our parklets installed this week,” said Sam McNulty, who owns four restaurants on West 25th Street, including Market Garden and Nano Brew.
Businesses can apply for a permit to use private parking lots, streets and on-street parking as outdoor restaurant space.
McNulty says the program was a big success for business last year.
“We put out picnic tables, umbrellas, planters and kinda basically expanded our outdoor areas and people loved it,” he said.
Parklets will be set up in front of his businesses including a big expansion outside Bar Cento and Bier Market.
“We’re gonna add about 200 seats outdoors right on West 25th Street, so it’s gonna be a lively festive beer garden atmosphere out there that we’re looking forward to,” McNulty said.
In downtown Cleveland, Betts on East 9th Street is working on making the most of their existing space, which currently is a mix of patio seating and greenhouses installed last year to give people a secure and isolated eating experience.
“With removing the greenhouses we were able to add two extra tables. With the other greenhouses gone after Mother’s Day, we’ll be adding in a couple other high top, bar, seating arrangements down at the other end as well,” said Experience Specialist Nicole Bakker.
She says they are still adhering to social distancing guidelines and there are upgrades coming to the exterior.
“We are working with the city to get some awnings over top of the patio, that way our outdoor seating is covered,” she said.
Bakker says even though their not apply for a permit, they say the city extending the outdoor seating order is helpful for all of downtown businesses.
“Anything to bring more people downtown. Anything that gets people out doing things and walking around,” she said.
As for the future, Ward 6 Cleveland Councilman Blaine Griffin tells us it is clear there’s interest from both city council and the Jackson administration in doing something long-term, but it’s something that council would have to legislate.
A spokesperson for City Hall tells us they’re seeing an increase in vehicle traffic volume and speeds increasing as we head into 2021. They plan to remain in an “evaluation mode” for this year as they issue permits, which began the week of April 5.