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Taking it to the streets: Tucson extends restaurant sidewalk seating
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Taking it to the streets: Tucson extends restaurant sidewalk seating

Ermanos Bar, 220 N. Fourth Ave., expanded into the sidewalk and street during the pandemic. The streateries program has been "a lifesaver," says co-owner Mark Erman. The use of sidewalks and streets for restaurant seating was first allowed under an emergency proclamation in May 2020.

A program allowing Tucson restaurants to seat customers on sidewalks and in parking spots to provide outdoor dining has been extended.

The City Council agreed to an 18-month extension of the so-called "streateries" program and to develop a permanent program for such use of public spaces. And, officials would like to include the development of "parklets" — small spaces, open to the public for seating, art or games.

Along with letting restaurants expand onto sidewalks and parking spots, Tucson is looking to add parkets where people can gather in public spaces.

Streateries were first allowed under an emergency proclamation in May 2020 and building permits were temporarily relaxed to create outdoor seating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 40 requests have been processed and additional applications are pending.  

“Our local restaurants and culinary scene are at the heart of Tucson’s vibrancy,” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero. “The streateries program enabled local restaurants and bars to respond flexibly to immediate challenges posed by the pandemic.” 

The streateries program has been extended for 18 months, but the city expects to have a permanent program in place before it expires.

Establishments that took advantage of the program were pleased with the extension.

“We are most appreciative of the mayor and council’s efforts to expand restaurant seating into outdoor spaces in the city,” said Mark Erman, co-owner of Ermanos Bar, 220 N. Fourth Ave. “Not only has this been a lifesaver during the ongoing pandemic but the urban land use tool is one that is being used around the country to liven up city life."

Jackie Sharma, owner of Bombolé Coffee and Ike’s Coffee, 100 N. Stone Ave., said the outdoor expansion allowed her to stay in business.

“Street patios are beautiful and embrace our cuisine as well as our great weather,” Sharma said. "It’s a friendly city vibe — why remove it?"

Bombolé Coffee, 100 N. Stone Ave., survived the pandemic by offering outdoor seating for customers.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at grico@tucson.com


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