Protected outdoor seating on the street 'was what got us through the winter'
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ ) -- A proposal to make last year's pilot program of downtown Bend restaurant outdoor seating areas a permanent fixture will come before city councilors next week.
The temporary "parklet" program was created last May to help restaurant businesses operate amid state-set limits during the ongoing pandemic.
The proposed extension would allow businesses to keep using nearby sidewalks and parking spots for additional seating.
Melanie Kebler, a new Bend city councilor said Friday, “When you look at the number of participations, you see that there were several businesses that wanted to participate and obviously felt that this was going to be helpful for them in getting through the pandemic.”
Chloe Deckwar, a manager at the 900 Wall restaurant, is one of those participants. She says the parklet program has allowed her to set up about 14 tables along the sidewalk and in the parking spaces near the restaurant.
“It’s very exciting, as this was what got us through the winter, and luckily we had people who wanted to brave the cold,” Deckwar said.
Ben Hemson, the city's business advocate, said he surveyed parklet program participants last month to learn how much of an impact allowing the outdoor seating has had.
“Some of those folks came back and said 75% of their revenue over the course of the pandemic has come from this outdoor dining,” Hemson said.
Deckwar says that although restaurants are being allowed to start serving indoors, it would still be nice to have outdoor seating available, especially considering state limits on both indoor and outdoor dining capacity that are still in place.
“Having the outside tables makes people more comfortable that are not wanting to eat inside," she said. "And with the weather getting nicer, it’s going to be more people just wanting to enjoy the outdoors.”