Last month Madison introduced the streatery program, which allowed restaurants to expand outdoor dining areas to public sidewalks, street parking, and parking lots.
The Streatery program was intended to allow restaurants and taverns to continue to operate while allowing for social distancing measures.
Now, more than 30 businesses have applied for extensions to the program from the city’s Alcohol License Review Committee.
In a statement back in June, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway announced the Streatery program, which allows restaurants and taverns to expand outdoor dining.
“Over 50 new outdoor cafes throughout the city will be open at least till the end of October,” says Mayor Rhodes-Conway.
State street has also been closed to thru traffic, to allow other businesses to expand onto the street.
Joe Perkins, owner of Tutto pasta, says that while he likes the idea, the benefits of the program are limited for his restaurant.
“The pros are it’s nice to have the streets closed off so people can walk around and be involved and things of that nature, but the cons are it’s really not an extension, honestly, we don’t get any extra seating out of it,” says Perkins.
On weekends, when the roads are shut down, businesses on State street are only allowed to expand an extra two feet into the road.
“So they’re trying to expand things for us, it’s just really hard. You can only expand so much on a street,” says Perkins.
Roads with street parking offer more space to expand, which businesses off of State street have taken advantage of, according to Nadia Savat, assistant general manager at The Coopers Tavern.
“It’s like they’re halfway in the road, I don’t know the feet exactly,” Says Savat.
The extra two feet every weekend will be gone soon, as the blocking off of State Street to traffic ends this Sunday, August 23rd. Perkins says he’s uncertain of what comes next.
“We’ll see what happens with the university coming back and things of that nature but it was a nice gesture by the city to do this,” says Perkins.
The Streatery program will run until October 25 or until restaurants are allowed to resume indoor dining at full capacity, whichever comes first.
While patrons must wear masks when moving around, they don’t have to wear masks while dining. Earlier this month, the Board of Health for Madison and Dane County rejected an open letter, signed by more than 350 residents, that called for the closure of businesses, including bars and restaurants, to curb the spread of COVID-19.