People want expanded outdoor dining to continue in downtown Raleigh, survey finds

Andrea Blanford Image
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Outdoor dining should stay: Downtown Raleigh survey
EMBED <>More Videos

Changes businesses made to stay alive during the pandemic could become permanent fixtures in the heart of Raleigh.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some changes downtown Raleigh businesses made to stay alive during the pandemic could become permanent fixtures in the heart of the capital city.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance revealed the results of its Public Realm Study to city council on Tuesday, showing what it would take to make things like extended outdoor dining a permanent part of downtown.

Bill King, Downtown Raleigh Alliance Pres. and CEO said businesses and visitors to downtown have realized the value of public space over the last year.

"It's where we found exercise," King said. "It's where we found community. It's where we expressed ourselves. It's part of where we've been able to get through this together."

The study included 20 listening sessions with stakeholders, a survey of more than 1,000 people, and feedback from a public meeting and other outreach efforts.

Of those surveyed, the DRA said 85 percent said they want expanded outdoor dining to stay.

Jim Duignan, owner of Flying Mayan on Fayetteville Street, participated in the study and wants to expand outdoor seating on the sidewalk outside his business.

Parking spaces become outdoor seating for Apex restaurants

Neighboring restaurants such as Garland and Bittersweet have already expanded their outdoor dining experience by either marking off more space along the sidewalk with barriers or raised wooden platforms in the street.

"The aesthetics alone of all that creates a fun environment and creates an inviting environment," said Duignan. "So for us, we're going to be putting a series of planters all around."

The DRA submitted several recommendations to city council including a streamlined permitting process that will stay in place for 2 to3 years to encourage more businesses to make the investment.

Durham's Honeysuckle at Lakewood gets creative with "hive" outdoor dining concept

When it comes to curbside pickup, the DRA said 68 percent of respondents said the easy access makes it more likely they will shop and dine in downtown.

DRA is recommending a number of improvements to the process including a new application process and allow for better signage of curbside pickup spaces.

The Public Realm Study also looked at how peer cities across the southeast are making similar changes to their downtown areas as well as how to better use public spaces such as plazas for regular events and activities.

The Economic Development Committee is now reviewing the recommendations.