You can eat on Denver streets and sidewalks for at least another year

What if we had nice things even when there isn’t a pandemic?

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

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

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Denverites can enjoy food and drinks on streets and sidewalks for a while longer. During a Wednesday news conference, Mayor Hancock announced that the city would extend its Temporary Outdoor Expansion program for restaurants and bars.

The program, which has allowed some businesses to expand their outdoor seating into sidewalks, parking lots and streets since May of 2020, was set to expire in October of this year. Hancock said that it will now run at least until October 2022.

Since the pandemic began, restaurants have been struggling to keep their businesses afloat while also meeting capacity restriction requirements set by the city. The expansion program has allowed businesses to increase guest capacity while still maintaining physical distancing between tables. It’s been a bit of a lifeline for many restaurants that couldn’t come close to capacity indoors. 

The program has also made areas of Denver more pedestrian-friendly. Some blocks have been fully closed to cars since restaurants were permitted to expand into the public right of way, stretching their patios into streets and sidewalks. Larimer Square, for instance, has been closed to cars for the last year, as the street in front of Zeppelin Station and parts of Larimer Street.

More than 300 restaurants have been approved for outdoor expansions, according to data provided by the City and County of Denver.  Expansions approved on private property must be renewed every 120 days, according to the city, and those in public right of way space must be renewed every 90 days.

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