City finalizing steps; restaurants anxious to use sidewalks, parking lots, possibly street/parking areas
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Outdoor seating at more restaurants in Bend may soon become the norm, making use for now of sidewalks, parking lots and possibly even parts of city streets.
The city of Bend plans to reveal its plans next week that would allow restaurants (or other businesses needing space) to follow social distancing guidelines by using sidewalks and streets for outdoor seating.
Last week, restaurants received the good news, when Gov. Kate Brown approved Deschutes County's Phase 1 reopening plan. It allowed restaurants to open at half capacity and start seating guests six feet apart.
But Julie Hamdan, owner of Joolz in downtown Bend, is still struggling.
“A lot of us are still doing takeout because people are not comfortable coming inside yet,” Hamdan said Thursday.
The city plans to start taking applications from restaurants and other businesses next week, for review on issues such as ADA accessibility and safety.
“I’m glad to see that the city is open to thinking outside the box and being creative," said Steven Halt, co-owner of Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails. "We all have got to re-invent ourselves. I think that it’s really nice to see the city open to bunch of different ideas.”
The city is still getting feedback from restaurant owners in Bend. On Thursday, a Bend business advocate met with a number of restaurant owners to seek common ground on the plan, especially the tricky issue of blocking downtown sidewalks or streets and parking.
“Nobody really knows if we can seat outdoor tables right now, because there wouldn’t be a six-foot distance for pedestrians to pass the tables," Hamdan said. "So we are all kind of confused where we can seat people and what it will look like as soon as it is warmer.”
There’s no word yet on how restaurants will be approved or exactly when. But it is safe to say restaurants are definitely eager to get the plan up and running.
“These restaurants are the living room of downtown Bend," said Steve Fritchman, owner of Bellatazza. "These are the places where people gather and enjoy, then head out to go shopping.”