When was the last time you ate at a restaurant? If you’re like most Coloradans, it was probably sometime in late February or early March, before Gov. Jared Polis ordered the closure of all on-site dining at bars and restaurants to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Though many restaurants transitioned to take-out and delivery options, those still weren’t quite the same as dining at a restaurant. Now, with new statewide dining rules in place, Colorado restaurants are getting creative with how best to serve customers and keep everyone — diners and staff members — safe from the virus.
Boulder’s beloved Pearl Street, for example, looks a lot different this summer. The city began closing off several blocks of Pearl Street to create pedestrian-friendly zones and spaces for restaurants and shops to expand into the street.
On Pearl Street, the road is now closed to cars between 9th and 11th streets. The city has also made it easier for restaurants across town to expand into parking lots, sidewalks and alleys. Restaurants must submit an application describing their plans to the city, but can otherwise begin serving people in these new locations. Alcohol sales in parking lots, sidewalks, streets and alleys require approval from the city first.
Restaurants are already taking advantage of these new opportunities and are expanding their patio seating out into the street and on the sidewalk.
A similar closure has been enacted on University Hill along Event Street from near Pennsylvania Avenue to 13th Street.
Similar initiatives are underway in other cities, including Boulder’s next-door neighbor Longmont.
Jefe’s, for instance, created a new 24-seat patio on the sidewalk along Main Street.
People are already taking advantage of these new al fresco dining options, too.
If you’re planning to take a few road trips this summer, you’ll also be happy to know that other Colorado cities are following suit, including many mountain towns. Breckenridge, for example, is closing off part of Main Street to cars to give business owners more space to expand.
Aspen, Arvada, Carbondale, Louisville, Ouray, Salida and Telluride are also allowing restaurants to expand into sidewalks, parking lots and related spaces.
What do you think about these new outdoor dining options? Will you be going out to restaurants again, or waiting a bit to see what unfolds? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know.