Tuscaloosa leaders looking to assist restaurants during pandemic

Coronavirus

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — City leaders in Tuscaloosa are trying to help restaurants and bars continue to recover during the coronavirus pandemic.  

The city created a special permitting process to allow restaurants in the city to temporarily expand their business into public or privately-owned outdoor spaces such as parking areas.

Daniel Eggers supports the city’s plan. He is the operating partner at Word of Beer restaurant in downtown Tuscaloosa. He says giving businesses the opportunity to expand seating outside makes sense.

“It allows restaurants to add that seating capacity which is going to generate revenue for the city and I think it’s a really good idea. We try to have more outside seating. We actually have tents up right now so that we can accommodate that outdoor presence and this weekend we will probably put more tents outside,” Eggers said.

The Temporary Expanded Dining program will allow local restaurants to increase dining capacity while adhering to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s physical distancing requirements.

For eligible restaurants, this may also include an expanded alcohol-licensed premise. Establishments with only an Alabama ABC lounge license are not eligible for this program.

Michelle Smart says this is the city’s way of trying to make sure restaurants are successful. She is the special event manager for the city of Tuscaloosa.

“The restaurants being able to extend outside and everyone loves an outdoor cafe. And this is just an extension of that opportunity so now you can use the sidewalk or apply to use parking spaces where it’s safe and have people sit outside,” Smart said.  

The application process for this special permit opens on Sept. 23.  Approved restaurants will be issued a temporary permit valid from Oct. 1 until Dec. 13 unless restaurant occupancy restrictions are removed or the program is canceled before then.


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