Denver Gets Ready to Re-Open Restaurants with Expanded Outdoor Seating

[Update May 25 at 2:23 p.m.: Governor Jared Polis has issued guidance for restaurants to re-open starting Wednesday, May 27. Go here to view the full guidance.]

Although there is no exact re-opening date for restaurants and bars to allow dine-in seating, Governor Jared Polis said in a press conference the state will release initial guidelines on how restaurants can re-open. He anticipates the state will announce the re-opening date for restaurants on May 25 after they take public feedback to update and finalize the initial guidelines. He also called upon cities to pass rules that allow expanded outdoor seating.

The state is going to waive every rule and regulation we can, including serving beer and wine on streets … but of course, it is the cities that control those [outdoor seating rules]… if cities value having restaurants and keeping them in business as a part of their quality of life, it’s really important they open their sidewalks, parking lots and/or streets in the next few weeks to have that capacity because restaurants simply can’t stay in business at a quarter or half capacity,” said Polis.

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As a result, Denver announced today a new program to allow eligible businesses to submit proposals for expanded outdoor seating. These businesses include places that allow on-premise consumption of food and beverage — including restaurants, cafes, fast food outlets, coffee shops, bars, taverns, brewpubs, breweries, microbreweries, distillery pubs, wineries, tasting rooms and more. Curiously enough, it does not allow food trucks or carts — although they can still offer to-go services. Those who are looking to submit will have to consider safety, mobility, local and emergency access for their plans and include a drawing of the proposed expansion area, among other criteriaThe program is set to last until September 7, 2020, and it could be extended.

“Business owners need time to prepare for re-opening, and we want to set them up for success as soon as dine-in becomes permissible again,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “We also want to ensure it’s safe for employees and customers to return to these businesses when that time comes.”

For interested parties, there’s a virtual information session for Denver’s program tomorrow. It’s hosted in partnership with the Colorado Restaurant Association and EatDenver Tuesday, May 19 from 1 – 2 p.m.

To register for the informational meeting on Tuesday, May 19,  go here. To submit your proposal for expanded seating and for more information on the Denver program go here. To see the initial guidelines go here and to provide feedback go here.