RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Several towns and cities in the Triangle are looking to expand outdoor dining in the hopes of helping restaurants during the pandemic.
People enjoyed dining outside on Friday night in Apex.
“It’s great. It’s just really nice,” said Jack Clayton of Apex. “These small-business people, a lot of them, it’s their whole life, right? They save up, they work, they sacrifice.”
Jack and Shirley Clayton said Friday was their first time dining out during the pandemic.
“It was heartbreaking to see everything close and just to think about our neighbors losing income, so I’m really happy to see this,” said Shirley Clayton.
The town of Apex converted several parallel parking spaces downtown into outdoor seating areas. The goal is to help businesses regain some of their capacity lost. The Fourth of July weekend is the first weekend they’ll be in use.
“Most of the people prefer to sit outside, so that was very helpful for us to have those extra tables,” said Kristyna Alcaide, co-owner of the Provincial in Apex.
Alcaide owns the Provincial with her husband.
“We were full last night. Inside of the restaurant was half full and the outside was full, so it’s really great,” said Wayne Alcaide. “It’s been great and people have liked it. They bring their dogs and it’s casual, so we’re hoping for the remainder of the summer that it helps us and everybody downtown to keep solvent.”
A similar plan is in the works in Raleigh.
Bill King, CEO of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, said businesses have several options for expanding their outdoor seating. They can apply to expand outside dining along sidewalks, on-street parking, and streets. The city will review and approve plans at no cost.
“We see it as part of survival. We know people are more comfortable eating outside, so it’s a really important program for Raleigh,” said King. “We need businesses to survive this moment, which is really challenging, so when things do finally return to normal and it’s fully safe to resume full operations, we have as many businesses still operating as we can.”
The Downtown Raleigh Alliance is helping guide businesses through the application process and is encouraging them to do it as soon as they can. Outside seating can expand dining up to half of a restaurant’s indoor capacity.
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