2020 wasn’t good for the dining world in Seattle and beyond, but a silver lining for them (and their customers) was the substantial relaxation of the rules for alfresco dining.
It is easier for restaurants to apply for a temporary “outdoor cafe permit”. To help businesses, the bureaucratic effort involved in the approval process has been reduced and two-week public consultations for terraces have been replaced with a more informal process that restaurateurs seek approval from their neighbors.
Some restaurants and bars may ask for more than just a free terrace: the city has also started issuing road closure permits so businesses can create European-style outdoor spaces that extend onto the street.
It’s not a perfect solution – the first road closure permit wasn’t granted until mid-August, relatively late in the summer (although smaller courtyards were approved much earlier). By allowing restaurants to dramatically increase their capacity while complying with the rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is a potential lifesaver for these businesses.
These squares and terraces should also appeal to customers: In a survey by Eater Seattle earlier this summer, several respondents said they were not entirely satisfied with the idea of going to restaurants and bars at this time. A simple majority said they would be most comfortable eating outside and that the city should find a way to allow more outdoor seating in restaurants and bars.
As more of these terraces and plazas get approved, here’s a look at some notable restaurants and bars stretching out onto the street.
Brew optimism [Official Photo]
This Capitol Hill brewery was the first to be granted one of the major road closures allowing it to spread out onto Broadway Court, a relatively quiet, non-arterial back street. This doubled Optimism’s overall capacity – and allowed customers to stay appropriately separated from each other. It is also a coworking space during the day.
Back in May, Mamnoon owner Wassef Haroun proposed a partial closure of Melrose Avenue so that the Middle Eastern restaurant and its neighbors could take over part of the street. That hasn’t been approved yet, but Mamnoon has still relocated its warehouse atmosphere outside, with a terrace made of industrial beams. It is also open to the public outside of Mamnoon’s opening hours.
Dreamland Bar and Diner
Taking over the former space of the Fremont beer bar Red Door, this brand new day and night spot offers both brunch and cocktails. Despite the unfortunate situation of signing a lease just prior to the pandemic, owner Paul Shanrock was lucky in some ways: the restaurant had a large tree-lined terrace over N 34th Street.
Small neon taco
Chef Monica Dimas and her team at this First Hill venue may not have had the luxury of a closed street for their patio, but they turned the restaurant’s alley into a hidden oasis.
Matt is on the market / Radiator Whiskey
Summer 2020 is a great time to rediscover the Pike Place Market. Grab a cocktail and some seasonal fish dishes and take a seat right in front of one of the city’s landmarks.