Quincy News

City releases preliminary guidelines for outdoor dining

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 23, 2020 12:01 am

QUINCY — Days after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that bars and restaurants could begin serving patrons in outdoor seating areas, city leaders issued guidelines to help businesses prepare for reopening next week.

"Basically we got together with the different department leaders in the city, the District, the chamber, and we tried to think of the requests that we may get from restaurant and bar owners who are hoping to open up next week," Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore said. He said the initial list of guidelines will be presented to the Quincy City Council on Tuesday and may change if the state issues guidelines that conflict with the city's.

"We are hoping to give a lot more detail about these guidelines after Tuesday, but in hopes of helping our business owners prepare for reopening, we wanted to give them an idea into what we, as a city, were thinking about," Moore said.

Under the proposed guidelines, bars and restaurants would be able to use beer gardens for outdoor seating areas as long as the indoor seating area is removed or made inaccessible. Outdoor dining also would be allowed on sidewalks, including placing tables in locations not adjacent to the restaurant or bar, as long as the establishment has received advance approval of neighboring property owners in writing.

"We know this is going to be a delicate balance," Moore said. "We want to be fair to the business owners, particularly those in our downtown area where some establishments have a smaller footprint than others in the city. We want to make sure that if the other property owners agree, that they can expand their seating areas."

The city is also working on rolling out a permitting process where food and beverage establishments could request the temporary closing of public streets, alleys and parking lots in hopes of converting these areas for dining.

Moore said he imagines the City Council will want to review each request case by case. In order for the request to be reviewed by the council, city leaders say it needs to be submitted to the city by 9 a.m. on the Friday before the next week's council meeting in order for it to be on the agenda.

In the proposed guidelines, no live music will be permitted in the outdoor seating areas, and recorded music must end by 10 p.m. The city says the businesses will be able to provide service during regular business hours.

Quincy bars and restaurants also must seek temporary structure permits if they plan to have a tent larger than 200 square feet on their property or adjacent property. The tent, which under current regulations can only be in place for a maximum of 180 days, must also not be within 20 feet of lot lines, buildings, other tents and canopies, parked vehicles and other structures.

As part of the permit process, a site and floor plan must be submitted to the city if the occupancy of the tent is 50 or more people. The business owner also must show seating arrangements under the tent, evacuation procedures and list the type of heating and electrical equipment if used.

"Again these are just very preliminary guidelines," Moore said. "We are going to be able to give a lot more detailed information once we have Tuesday's meeting with the city aldermen."

The weekly City Council meeting will be Tuesday evening due to the Memorial Day holiday.

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