Restaurants take advantage of relaxed summer rules
ELYRIA — Several small tables fitted with chairs and umbrellas made their way outdoors in downtown Elyria on Wednesday, two days after Council voted to allow restaurant and cafe owners to let their patrons eat outside.
“We wanted to put them out on Tuesday, but it rained all day, so we had to wait until today,” said Sara Elkhamiri, co-owner of the Le Rendez Vous Café on Broad Street. “We just purchased the table this morning, but this will definitely help business now that people can sit outside.”
Council approved a summerlong moratorium on an ordinance prohibiting dining outdoors at restaurants, allowing patrons to dine outside until Nov. 1, Law Director Terry Shilling said. Afterward, residents will have to go back to eating inside for the winter, but Council can renew the moratorium for summer 2008.
Councilman Forrest Bullocks, D-2nd Ward, who oversees much of the downtown area, said he and several Council members were in favor of repealing the existing ordinance so that the city can retain some control over what is allowed downtown and so the city’s Health Department knows when outdoor seating is available at local restaurants.
Only two restaurants downtown took advantage of the outdoor seating Wednesday, but Donna Dove, owner of Donna’s Diner on Broad Street, said she believes other cafes and restaurants will come around as the summer progresses.
“Everyone will be doing it, and our customers love it,” Dove said. “They come in during the morning, get their coffee and a bagel and then head outside to read the paper.”
The city has not entertained a motion to allow outside dining for a couple of years, according to Shilling. “The biggest reason there was a gap was because it was utilized very little,” Shilling said. “The issue wasn’t reopened until the businesses asked.”
The temporary change also means that businesses can serve wine, beer and other alcoholic refreshments at their outdoor tables, provided that their liquor license approves sales on the front or rear of the store, Shilling said. The outdoor seating will hopefully help businesses to serve their customers better, Bullocks said.
“I have no problem with it whatsoever, so long as it doesn’t prohibit people walking by,” Bullocks said. “You see it in other cities, like in Crocker Park (in Westlake). They have it all over their main drag and it’s not a big issue.”
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