"Having worked in other cities, we're one of few cities that don't allow it. We think it's a great idea. We'd like to expand outdoor dining.
"In fact, we'd like to explore the possibility of closing Capitol Street from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and possibly Saturday afternoon to stimulate foot traffic. If we close off the street, we can double the outdoor dining experience. We can look just like a European café. They've been doing it for thousands of years.
"All these other cities are doing stuff. We're about a decade behind," Stanley said.
Mayor Danny Jones had some reservations about the bill at council's Finance Committee meeting Monday. "Did we limit the space?"
As required by the state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration, restaurants must leave a 3-foot-wide path for pedestrians along the curb, Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis said.
"In some places, there's only room for one row of tables," Davis said.
Some parts of Capitol Street have narrow sidewalks, Jones said. "Here's what I'm worried about: When this hits the paper, someone gets all excited [about outdoor dining] and then their sidewalk's too narrow."
Davis said restaurants would have to obtain permits through the Planning Department and, for beverages, the ABCA. City permits cost $50 for the first year and $25 for additional years.
Seating areas don't have to be covered, Davis said, "but there has to be a barrier if they're serving beer."
Draft rules for the program say barriers around seating areas must be between 32 and 42 inches high, Vriendt said. "That ensures you have good visibility into the outdoor dining area. That creates a festive atmosphere. It's all about creating street-level activity."
Finance Committee members and City Council members approved the measure on unanimous voice votes. Vriendt said his office is ready to start taking applications for permits.
Reach Jim Balow at ba...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.