Raleigh considers shutting down streets to allow more outdoor dining amid COVID-19 concerns

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The Raleigh City Council is weighing options on how to offer more outdoor dining and bring much needed revenue to the table for struggling restaurants.

The council is planning to relax regulations when our state enters Phase 2 of the COVID crisis.

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"We should make this easiest as possible on them," said Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin. "The last thing these people need right now is another fee to deal with."

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A few ideas are being tossed around to adhere to social distancing.

We have seen streets closed down in states like Illinois and it could be happening in Raleigh on a limited-basis.

"This could potentially be something that happens in some areas on the weekend rather than a 24/7," said Raleigh Transportation Director Michael Moore.

Greg Hatem is one of Downtown Raleigh's largest restaurateurs. He owns Raleigh Times, The Pit, Sitti, Gravy and Mecca to name a few spots.

He's in favor of expanding outdoor dining -- just not at the detriment of shutting down streets.

"As we work to enhance takeout and delivery, we certainly don't want to close down the street in front of our restaurant because we think that's most important and the safest way to serve our guest," said Hatem.
Even when our state enters Phase 2, Hatem said he likely won't reopen his places right away.

"We want to give ourselves sometime to train. We don't want to open up on a busy weekend. We want to open up the first of the week and maybe one shift, at one restaurant, and grow into it," he said.

The City Council hasn't signed off on anything yet.

Officials still need to do some homework. They need to check with the Department of Transportation about replacing parking spots with tables and chairs, and also see about serving alcohol street side.

"There would be some expansion of insurance and ABC permitting involved in that," said Moore.

Another presentation will be made to the City Council in June.
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