Great news for Denver restaurants and bars.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the restaurant and bar community, the City of Denver announced a new program to allow restaurants and bars to expand seating to outdoor areas not previously allowed such as streets, parking lots, and adjacent properties. We are blessed to live in an amazing climate and this is a great way to take full advantage of it while helping a hurting industry.
The idea is to allow facilities to get back to 100% “capacity” using the outdoor spaces for distancing and fresh air. Essentially, if the State’s pending re-opening guidelines limit indoor capacity to 50%, then the remaining 50% may be made up outside. Operators could balance the percentage differently if they chose, such as 0% indoor and 100% outdoor. Although, it is possible to bump that up capacity to almost 120% without triggering additional restroom or infrastructure requirements according to the discussion on today’s virtual townhall….which could be a great boost for a comeback.
There are some details to be aware of: for instance reductions in parking space counts will be reviewed by Zoning and may limit the number of seats; sidewalk and street spaces will be reviewed by Transportation to ensure the public can still move about safely. The outdoor space must be contiguous to existing outdoor spaces or buildings in order to serve alcohol, with some exceptions. Each operator must apply for their own outdoor space, even if an entire district or street is closed off for seating as applied for by a neighborhood district. A separately owned adjacent property can be used with the owner’s approval. Review the city’s FAQ which is in the process of being updated.
The city has set up a “one stop shop” application which can be found here. All departments (including Excise) are set up to review applications quickly (they say 2 to 3 days), and a single point of contact will be assigned to each application. Application fees are fairly minimal, and many department review fees are being waived. The application requirements are pretty simple and you will need a site plan or drawing to show the outdoor space and seating capacity. Other drawings may be needed as each department reviews the application.
DPGA is positioned to assist operators with the application process and the drawings required for approvals. Many of these plans may generated with minimal in-person contact, or perhaps entirely through telephone or online meetings. Contact us 303.246.4943 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay healthy…we look forward to getting back to business!
City of Denver Outdoor Expansion press release
City of Denver Outdoor Expansion FAQs
City of Denver Outdoor Expansion Application
State of Colorado Re-opening Guide (DRAFT)
As a side note…other cities are looking into this idea as well, so keep an eye out for updates.