Birmingham offers support to restaurants by offering space for outdoor dining

Can shared space permits boost restaurants?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Birmingham City Council will officially allow shared space permits to restaurants to expand seating and hopefully boost revenue during the pandemic.

The city council hopes if the initiative is successful that it could become permanent.

“This is something that the city of Birmingham gets to give back to the restaurant industry,” said Councilman Hunter Williams.

The city tested the waters at Eat in the Streets in Avondale just a few weeks ago, and the reaction from patrons and businesses was positive.

The streets though, won't be shut down.

“What this essentially will do is allow restaurants and bars to utilize sidewalk space that’s adjacent to their store and adjacent parking spaces whether directly in front of it or connected in some way,” explained Williams.

The Lumbar in Pepper Place was the first restaurant to receive a permit, and the Hightower family has expanded their restaurant into parking spaces.

“A lot of people feel so much more comfortable sitting outside,” said Rylie Hightower, The Lumbar’s owner.

Health experts advocate eating outside as a safer alternative to inside dining, and Hightower says it's a win for their staff too.

“It gives us more peace of mind, we’ve been so worried about opening back up to the inside,” said Hightower.

Councilman Williams says it's all about giving business owners the tools to succeed.

"In my perspective it's already the taxpayer's space right?"

And sharing that space could help save Birmingham restaurants.

The permits are through the transportation department, restaurants can can email both James Fowler: James.fowler@birminghamal.gov and Kelvin Datcher: kelvin.datcher@birminghamal.gov for more information on how to get a permit to expand outdoor space.

Williams would also like to remind people to be extra aware of pedestrians and people eating outdoors.

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