Few Raleigh restaurants apply to expand outdoor dining options during COVID-19 pandemic

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- There are cones and rope placed along the side of Armadillo Grill on Glenwood South. What was once parking spaces is now an outdoor patio.

The City of Raleigh is allowing restaurants to do this so they can serve more people while adhering to social distancing regulations. Leaders were hoping it would help struggling small businesses, as well as the dwindling local economy.

ABC11 is learning, however, that barely any small businesses are taking the city up on the offer.

A Raleigh official said there have only been two applications so far for a temporary permit to expand outdoor dining during the COVID crisis.

Coglin's is one. Managers at Armadillo were surprised to learn they are the only other.

"I feel like anybody with extra space around their building should utilize it for sure," said Armadillo Grill Operations Director Erika Wright. "We jumped all over it and it's been great."

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Wright said the extra space is helping.

"We have such a small dining room as it, it was impossible to open at 50 percent," she said.

A few spots on private properties are also expanding.

Flying Biscuit in Cameron Village took six parking spaces and converted them into a parklet.

Operating Partner Dan Palatucci understands why few places are doing this right now.

"Not everybody's really ready to reopen yet. I know a lot of places aren't reopened yet. They're still just doing curbside," he said.

Armadillo said sales are improving thanks to the seating option, and managers are hoping to keep this going as long as possible.

"It gives the customer peace of mind, which we're all about, and then just as importantly it gives employees peace of mind that we can work in an environment that's not overcrowded," Wright said.

The takeaway -- restaurants can create a similar outdoor space at no extra cost. The temporary permit is free.

The City said restaurants can use the extra outdoor space for 30 days after the governor lifts restrictions.
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