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City of Seattle

August 15, 5:15 PM click here to comment > 4

New policy expands sidewalk café options for restaurants and bars

These are tough times for business, especially small businesses like local bars and restaurants. We need to do everything we can to support them during this challenging period. Sometimes that’s as simple as changing a small rule that’s getting in the way.

We’ve heard from local restaurants that the city could be more flexible in permitting sidewalk cafés. Existing rules limit sidewalk café alcohol service to areas immediately adjacent to a building. Many cities have found ways to accommodate other kinds of sidewalk cafés, including those that are detached from the building. We agreed that it would be a good thing to allow here in Seattle. But we had to go to the Washington State Liquor Control Board and seek a rule change first.

Detached sidewalk café in Montreal, Quebec

Last week the Washington State Liquor Control Board adopted an interim policy allowing Seattle restaurants to establish sidewalk cafés in more locations, including in the public right-of-way. The new rules give restaurants more flexibility, including an option for curbside sidewalk cafés. This will help businesses offer more options to their customers — and it does so in a way that is good for pedestrians too.

Our office worked closely with the Seattle Department of Transportation, the Department of Planning and Development and the Liquor Control Board to get this done. The change was our proposal, but the new policy will apply statewide, and is effective immediately. Restaurants with an on-premise liquor licenses will be able to extend their food and alcohol service to public right-of-way areas if their request to the Liquor Control Board is approved and if they are given a permit from the City of Seattle.

“We support the City of Seattle’s efforts to make outside dining more accessible,” said Washington State Liquor Control Board Chair Sharon Foster. “This has been a collaborative process that we hope will be positive for licensees choosing to participate. While the effort was shouldered by the City of Seattle, this interim policy will apply statewide.”

Sidewalk Cafe
Detached sidewalk café in Madrid, Spain

“We’re really excited about this new rule change,” said Josh McDonald, of the Seattle Restaurant Alliance. “This will help bars and restaurants expand and provide a better climate for new customers, and will also help with the city’s plan to activate outdoor spaces including sidewalks, plazas and parks.”

This new policy also supports Seattle’s comprehensive Nightlife Initiative, which aims to maintain public safety and provide businesses with greater flexibility to adapt to the market demands of residents and visitors. Last month we took the first step toward changing state policy to allow extended service hours. More information about the Nightlife Initiative and its components can be found here. As always, be sure to check back on our blog for news on extended service hours and the Nightlife Initiative.

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Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn


Comment from Sharon Shrader
Time August 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

I love this idea!!


Sharon Shrader

Comment from Wells
Time August 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm

This is my missive defending mayor mcginn. Readers may ignore it if it so pleases. I had to post the missive somewhere public & a variety of political persuasions might appreciate it. There’s a Recommended summer reading at the overly long read…

Slow the DBT down long enough to drown it in the bathtub. (the metaphor of a “monster tunnel” being drowned) is better target of scorn to explain such violent acts. Drowning Government is more personal that drowning someone’s dream of wasting perfectly good sidewalk material in a big hole that won’t really do the job.

DBT is a Mistake AND the Mayor is right on all counts for transit, bike lanes & street rearrangements.
Keep fighting the thing. Wsdot ‘did’ cheat many of their studies, doubt their veracity. CANCEL the tunnel contract.

Some of you who read my posts do get their concerns regarding just how big and dangerous a mistake the DBT bored tunnel is… Most have no frikin idea how dangerous it is…
Honestly, I have framed my perspective analysis with care and high regard for Seattle’s future many times.
THIS dangerous DBT mistake in basic engineering is driving many professional minds to support absolute opposition ON the basis of VERY HIGH risk.
RISK. It’s something some engineers Don’t ignore.

Those who know the dbt is a mistake, you soldier on. Join any “ANY” other group/organization still against the damn DBT MISTAKE of all YOUR disastrous hwys you’ve built. Seek ((Hydrologists)), Structural Engineers, traffic management (Experts & non-experts with good work), Waterway and Sound estuary restoration Clubs, their members of hikers & grove trimmers & organizations who can predict how the waterfront will be affected by the whole design. The DBT won’t be good as is…The “Hydrological Alteration is Absolutely Unacceptable” as I have explained many times. Seattle CANNOT further destablize waterfront soils.

Picture the cut-cover leaving the hydrology basicly as is; a mere move 80′ or so east.
Hydrology incurs a minor change and is properly re-ordered to hydrologically work actually best because of drainage infrastructure. Softest soils are minimized and solidified. You guys know I’m yer analyist, c’mon. DBT is a Mistake AND the mayor is right on both counts – transit needed – DBT too dangerous & MercerWest North Portal project increases traffic where it’s already too much. Questions whether to SAVE the BST & the BS Underpass (fruedian slip?)

“Reckless Drivers Passed a Referendumb (ain’t that how it’s spelt?) Later. Keep fighting the thing.
CANCEL the tunnel contract

or get the signature signing date put off for 3-6 months delay of scheduling to ascertain best interests.

Mayor Mike, your fight is not over. Slow the DBT down long enough to drown it in the bathtub. You’ll be drowning something less personal than Somebody’s dream of wasting perfectly good sidewalk material in a 2-mile frighteningly-scary dangerous highway hole, good grief.
Your gut instinct to oppose is right and You are far from alone on the whole poorly done thing that Mercer West makes worse… I’m serious… I AM SO VERY PROUD of Seattle’s GREAT MAYOR Michael McGinn….
You better rethink the danger bore tunnel right now, -holes, jerks, frivolous, indifferent, flambouyant, know-it-ain’t so and so’s. Your engineers are the worst, people. Do not trust them on this one…

Recommended Summer Reading:
“Breathers, a Zombie’s Lament”
author (SG?) Browne
You will be on the zombie group side at the end. Many metaphor/alegory meaning built-in. 1st Person narrative by Andy, a personable, friendly zombie — unless YOU harm his friends…
It’s a modern classic.
Thank ‘you’ once again, Mike.
“Our” fight is not over.
You are needed to oppose and stop it. Later.

Comment from Juno
Time August 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Thank you for the sidewalk cafe policy. If there’s going to be a continued lack of non-retail plazas, there should at least be the impression on the street and not all patrons encased indoors.

Comment from Sal
Time May 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm

You know pal, a lot of us use the sidewalk for walking and you turned over my public walking space to a private business to maximize their profits.Yes, it is a big inconvenience on the poor in favor of the wealthy once again. Do not like it at all. It is enough to make me miss Nichols, And that is saying a lot.