CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The City of Cincinnati will be closing some streets and lanes in its Downtown and Over-The-Rhine neighborhoods to create patio seating for local restaurants beginning Friday.
According to 3CDC, which is facilitating the program, eight restaurants have already completed the permit process and will expand with outdoor seating.
Senate, Abigail Street, Krueger’s, Bakersfield, The Mercer, and Pontiac BBQ will be taking over parking lanes in front of their businesses.
Pepp & Dolores and Maize OTR will be utilizing a partial street closure on 15th Street.
Restaurants can stay open until 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on the weekends.
In a council session Thursday morning, council members discussed details of the program, which relies on a city mechanism already in place called Revocable Street Privileges.
RSPs grant businesses the right to use a portion of the public right-of-way, such as sidewalks, for something other than its originally intended purpose, according to a spokesperson from 3CDC.
The city created a modified RSP permit application for the outdoor seating.
The permit requires pedestrian paths remain open. 3CDC says businesses are also required to:
- Provide accurate and complete applications in a timely fashion.
- Meet all requirements to pass inspection, including proper barricades, signage, and access points.
- Maintain the outdoor dining space as if it is an extension of their establishment, including providing seating, managing trash, keeping the space clean, etc.
- Comply with Gov. Mike DeWine’s and Amy Acton’s orders related to COVID-19, including those associated with appropriate social distancing. Note that the City Health Department has been an active participant in the review process and will enforce these requirements.
Turnaround time for the permit application approval is two days, according to council members.
3CDC says none of the closures will impede access to private residential parking areas.
City leaders also said residents who use parking on closed streets would be allowed to park for free in a metered space during this 90-day pilot program.
Mayor John Cranley explained last week that social distancing in the patios will be monitored to the extent the Health Department and CPD are able. He also said self-enforcement by restaurants and customers will be key.
Restaurants will have to provide facilities for handwashing and cleaning to occur, according to Director of Environmental Health Antonio Young.
“Warnings will be issued (first) concerning problems with improper mask-wearing, table distancing, etc.,” Young said.
City Manager Patrick Duhaney also said people will have access to restrooms inside of the businesses.
The outdoor environments were originally set to span Over-the-Rhine, Downtown Cincinnati, and the Banks, although the restaurants and bars at the Banks will not be offering “street seats” this weekend.
Spokesperson for the Banks, Tracy Schwegmann, says the restaurants and bars have collaboratively agreed to offer limited outdoor patio seating and carry-out starting Friday.
“The collective of bars and restaurants at the Banks will continue to explore the ‘Street Seats’ options and how to best introduce this experience in a safe environment,” Schwegmann said.
Whether relevant or not to The Banks’ concerns, the weekend is expected to be rainy.
Conversely, a 3CDC statement called Over-the-Rhine an “ideal candidate to serve as a pilot" for the outdoor seating program.
“Given the historic nature of the buildings in Over-the-Rhine, in particular, many of the restaurants have a smaller physical presence. The smaller spaces result in more intimate settings that have helped make OTR one of the most desirable restaurant districts in the nation,” the statement reads.
“However, during a pandemic where the virus is spread through close personal contact and large groups, the spaces are not conducive to social distancing. Providing expanded outdoor seating will help alleviate some of the safety concerns posed by the smaller restaurant spaces in OTR and allow participating restaurants to serve more patrons.”