Denver just created a pathway for restaurants and bars to provide outdoor dining

It’s part of a program allowing businesses to expand to nearby spaces like parking lots, streets and sidewalks.

Outdoor dining at Ocean Prime in Larimer Square. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Outdoor dining at Ocean Prime in Larimer Square. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

KevinJBeaty
(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

You might get a chance to visit your favorite Denver restaurant this summer. It might just be a breezier experience.

On Monday, the city launched a temporary program that would give bars and restaurants the option to expand into outdoor settings. The move would allow dine-in services that accommodate physical distancing guidelines that are in place due to COVID-19.

Final rules and regulations are still being developed, but the program would allow some businesses to expand into outdoor areas like adjacent parking lots, streets and sidewalks.

Restaurants and similar businesses can start applying to the program on a website the city has created.

“Considerations for every proposal will include plans and accommodations for safety, mobility, and local and emergency access,” the city said in a statement.

It’s not clear when restaurants will be allowed to open for dine-services. Many have continued providing delivery or take-out. The patio spaces approved by the city’s program won’t be able to operate until the state has clear guidelines on when restaurants can reopen for this kind of service. On Monday, Gov. Polis announced this guidelines would be released early this week.

The program would run at least until Sept. 7.

Eligible businesses would include:

  • restaurants
  • bars
  • cafes
  • coffee shops
  • taverns
  • brew pubs
  • breweries
  • microbreweries,
  • distillery pubs
  • wineries
  • tasting rooms
  • other “similar places of public accommodation offering food or alcohol beverages for on-premises consumption.”

Earlier this month, Denver Downtown Partnership reached out to the city with suggestions for closing several streets along well-known businesses corridors to allow for things like outdoor dining.

Sonia Riggs, president and chief executive officer of the Colorado Restaurant Association, said she supports the city’s program.

“Expanding outdoor seating will give more guests the opportunity to enjoy their favorite eating and drinking establishments in a safe way and support these businesses that are so vital to our neighborhoods,” Riggs said.

The city will be hosting a virtual information session with the Colorado Restaurant Association and EatDenver on Tuesday from 1 to 2 p.m.

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