KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Outdoor dining has been successful for many Kansas City area restaurants and bars, and a potential ordinance could give outdoor tables a more permanent place on the menu.
"It's really increased our capacity by a measurable percentage and that has helped us to stay afloat during these tough times," Grant Waner, co-owner of City Barrel said of their outdoor cafe.
Right now, places like City Barrel have a permit for outdoor seating in the street, but a proposed ordinance the KCMO Planning and Development Committee will discuss on Wednesday would amend the city's zoning and development code "to allow eating and drinking establishments to use underutilized outdoor space for dining and seating purposes."
The ordinance would authorize parking lots and other open spaces to be used under the following conditions:
- Seating is only allowed in parking spaces, not in "drive aisles."
- Driveways or entryways from a public right-of-way are not obstructed.
- Landscaped or stormwater-management areas are not used for seating.
- Americans with Disabilities Act parking spaces are not used for dining, but seating should be ADA accessible.
- No obstruction of pedestrian walkways.
- Property owners must maintain the safety and cleanliness of outdoor dining areas.
- Areas must be "restored to their original condition" when not being used for dining.
Waner said the "large-format seating" outside was a big help for business.
"We've done things like add lighting, added propane heaters. We have music going on out there now," Waner said.
People still can dine inside, but those who are nervous about doing so have the option of sitting in the street cafe.
"There are so many customers that wouldn't want to come out if they can't sit outside, just because of the transmission of COVID," Waner said. "They love sitting outside, even if it's cold we have people that ask to sit outside. It's really increased our capacity by a measurable percentage."
Several streets over in the Crossroads at Buffalo State Pizza Co., they too want street dining to stick around.
"It really helped, especially at a time where people could not sit inside," Philippe Lechevin, Buffalo State Pizza owner, said.
So much, he is willing to put more money into the space.
"I think we are going to spruce it up and add some lights and shades and maybe even some music speakers and make it more enjoyable," Lechevin said.
The committee meets at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the ordinance, and the public can view the meeting online.