Friday, May 24, 2013
Hungry, Thirsty Customers Flock to Outdoor Eateries; Restaurants Face Compliance Codes
Some of these eateries are right next to major streets and intersections, and keeping the outdoor food business in compliance with city codes can be a challenge.
You may have noticed more restaurants offering outdoor table service, taking full advantage of Alaska's long, beautiful summer days.
“After we opened, everybody kind of kept asking, ‘when is the patio going up, when is the patio going up,’” said Shawna Calt from Spenard Roadhouse.
But some of these eateries are right next to major streets and intersections, and keeping the outdoor food business in compliance with city codes can be a challenge.
One of the compliance concerns? Parking spaces.
A restaurant must have one parking space for every three seats, plus there has to be enough room for customers and cars to get around safely.
“Additional seating also affects their parking requirements. Additional parking may be required through the summer months when they are doing the outdoor eatery,” said Jillanne Inglis, a land use plan reviewer for the Municipality of Anchorage.
On a busy summer night, Calt said there is often a waitlist to eat out on the Spenard Roadhouse patio while plenty of seats inside the restaurant remain empty. “A lot of times people will kind of join up and sit with people they don't even know to be able to sit outside,” she continued.
Alex Fox from Bernie’s Bungalow believes that Alaskans love eating outside so much because they’ve “been cooped up all winter.” He also said Bernie’s is working on a way to offer outdoor table service beyond the summer months, including outdoor heating and covered areas.
Land use officials said that aside from being in compliance, restaurants that operate on sidewalks must have a right of way permit, as well as the appropriate permitting from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to serve alcohol, if applicable.
Upcoming changes to Title 21, the zoning ordinance that dictates the type of structure that can be built and where, won't affect many restaurants.