City of Buffalo to allow restaurants and small businesses to use outdoor space this summer

The City will speed up the application process
Posted at 5:09 PM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 17:09:23-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Restaurants re-open in WNY during Phase Three. The City of Buffalo is launching The Small Business Social Distancing Initiative to help local businesses welcome customers back safely.

This plan will waive the fees and speed up the application process allowing businesses to use outdoor space like sidewalks and parking lots this summer. This goal is to ease the transition for local businesses.

"My Administration is committed to helping the restaurant community promote safe socially distanced seating while also ensuring that pedestrians, cyclists and motorists can also travel to and from their destinations efficiently,” said Mayor Byron Brown.

The plan includes a working group of stakeholders who will plan develop an application process for small businesses and restaurants seeking to use streets, sidewalks, and other public or other outdoor space to meet social distancing requirements and operate their business. The application process will be made available on June 1st.

The city will consider three kinds of proposals:

  • The use of private property, such as restaurant owned parking lots, that are adjacent to the restaurant or business
  • The use of City sidewalks
  • Total street closures

“Restaurants need an easy and flexible process available now so we can start planning on how to safely implement open air seating in a way that protects our staff and the people we want to be welcoming back. I want to thank the City for acting now to set up a process so we can be ready on day one of the Phase Three reopening,” said Fred Daniel, owner of Freddy J's on Grant St.

Each business must have an outdoor space use plan that:

  • Protects the health of seated patrons and other members of the public from traffic through the use of appropriate space and adequate barriers and signage
  • Is managed in such a way as to ensure it does not draw excessive crowds to the location
  • Adheres to the City and State’s other applicable laws, rules and regulations that would normally govern restaurant operations.

The application process will look to associations or business coalitions first, but individual businesses may apply if they have secured the support of the neighboring businesses on their block and can demonstrate that its proposal will not negatively impact on these other business operations. Applications ensure ADA compliance.