CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Restaurants could soon start serving lunch and dinner on city sidewalks following passage of an outdoor dining bill Monday by Charleston City Council.
And if some establishments want to serve beer with their meals, that's OK too. But supporters of the ordinance want to be clear: It's an outdoor dining bill, not an outdoor drinking one. Bars need not apply.
A handful of Charleston restaurants already have outdoor tables, but mainly on private property. This ordinance regulates dining on city property.
"This is outdoor dining on a city right of way. Outdoor cafés might be a better word," said city Planning Director Dan Vriendt.
It applies only to restaurants in the central business district -- an area roughly bounded by the Elk and Kanawha rivers, Leon Sullivan Way, and Smith and Washington streets -- and on streets with a speed limit of 25 miles an hour or less.
That leaves out Kanawha Boulevard, the East End, West Side and Kanawha City, although other areas could be added later.
"I think the feeling was start small, get it up and running and see how it goes," Vriendt said.
City Councilman Andy Richardson said the Planning Committee has been tweaking the bill for nearly a year.
"We looked at all those things, but the place that jumped out to us was Capitol Street," Richardson said. "There's an opportunity to create a village atmosphere like other places where dining outdoors is part of the culture."
At Adelphia Bar & Grill on Capitol Street, owner Deno Stanley is anxious to expand the limited outdoor seating he's offered for nearly a year.
"I'm excited," he said Monday. "We had outdoor dining, but we couldn't have any alcohol out there. I won't say it deterred business. Some people came inside, some left. I asked a couple council people about it. They said they were working on it.