McLean said at least 31 percent of her customers sit outside from May 1 to Sept. 30, when outdoor seating is available. That percentage is probably even higher in July and August.
“That is a huge percentage,” she said. “It’s not just 5 percent or something like that.”
Councilor Tim Carpenter (D-Ward 1) said he has never heard any complaints about outdoor seating since it was established.
“I always see people sitting out there,” he said. “I think it’s a positive thing.”
McLean said there have been no issues with outdoor dining at her restaurant.
“It’s been overwhelmingly positive, and I think it is good for downtown aesthetically. It looks good and makes people notice,” she said.
“There is not a lot of shopping downtown, but we have restaurants, and when people see umbrellas and tables, they know there are places to eat.
“It has become a niche.”
Rabideau noted that when the weather is bad, no one sits outside.
“And parking is still being taken away,” he said.
Public Works Superintendent Mike Brodi said the number of parking spaces used in front of the restaurants may have to increase by one or two from what the eateries requested because the dining section needs to be cordoned off at an angle at each end to deflect traffic should a vehicle go astray.
Irises uses three spaces and one more for DeLish next door, which McLean also owns. The Pepper uses two, as does Olive Ridley’s. But Olive Ridley’s is on a corner and does not need an extra space for the angled barriers.
The idea of taking away more parking spaces caused councilors to table all the requests but one until they could get more information.
The issue will be discussed at the council’s Community Relations Committee meeting at 5 p.m. today. All the councilors plan to attend.
The council did, however, grant approval for Champlain Wine Company to use one space, since it is on the corner and does not need another space to accommodate the angled barrier.
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