Apex to convert parking spaces into outdoor seating areas for restaurants

APEX, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Town of Apex is working to convert some parallel parking spaces into dining areas to make it easier for restaurants to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The parking spots on Salem Street between Saunders and Chatham streets will be converted into outdoor seating areas.

"Our hope is that this expanded outdoor seating will allow downtown businesses to begin regaining some of the capacity lost during the pandemic," the Town of Apex said in a post on Facebook.

Mayor Jacques Gilbert said the idea came from the Apex Downtown Business Association and Small Businesses Development Coordinator. The experiment will last until Sept. 30.

"We were just looking for a way for businesses to thrive again," said Gilbert. "This was a great opportunity to collaborate and let's work together to figure out how we can get back to some sense of normalcy and this was a great idea presented by many people and here we are."

Four spaces will remain reserved for 15-minute loading and unloading activities. No handicap spaces were lost in the project.

"We're really focused on us and doing what's right for our staff, our guests and Apex in general," said Ryan Walters, manager of Salem Street Pub. "We've been doing something right for 11 years now and we're going to keep doing it."

"It's been stressful but we're grateful to have been able to retain the majority of our employees and continue to pay them," said owner Jenny Duckart. "We're just looking forward to getting back to full capacity."

The City of Raleigh has also offered this option to help struggling small businesses, as well as the dwindling local economy.

However, as of last week, a Raleigh official said there were only two applications submitted for a temporary permit to expand outdoor dining.

The temporary permit is free. The City of Raleigh said restaurants can use the extra outdoor space for 30 days after the governor lifts restrictions.
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