BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Chippewa is closed to cars between Franklin and Delaware until Labor Day, allowing four restaurants on the block to expand their sidewalk patios into the street.
The move allows businesses to have more outdoor seating, something that is in demand. The Chippewa business alliance sent a survey to hundreds of residents and business owners asking what they wanted to see when restaurants reopen, 82% said outdoor seating.
“We’ve been to very few places," said diner Cindy Gorski. "We like to sit outside, so this gives us a certain amount of comfort to dine out, and be out here, and the spacing is good.”
The expansion is part of the city's Small Business Social Distancing initiative, allowing businesses to expand outdoors. The city said about 40 restaurants have applied since applications opened in June.
Peter Hammerl owns Local Kitchen & Beer Bar, and said this allowed his seating to more than double. While indoor dining is capped at 50% capacity, he said customers still want to be outside, and this will help bring them back.
“With the lack of travel, and lack of out of towners coming in to Buffalo, we have to do a little extra to try and bring more people into Downtown Buffalo, and enjoy what Buffalo has to offer," he said.
Brendan Mehaffy in Buffalo's Office of Strategic Planning said with the right plan and consideration of traffic, more streets could do this.
“If there is a coalition, a coordination among the businesses on Allen, or a lot of other streets, then that's a possibility,” he said.
Though this began out of a need for more seating, the layout could stick around post COVID-19. That's the Chippewa Business Alliance's goal, according to president Rachel DeDomeico.
“Our hope is that this becomes such a success, that down in the future years we’ll be able to close the street down in the summer, and possibly see this as a permanent thing," she said.
According to Rec Room, the patios close daily at 11 p.m.