DENVER (KDVR) — The City and County of Denver announced Tuesday it is extending the temporary allowance for restaurants and bars to expand outdoors through Oct. 2021. The program was previously slated to end Oct. 31, 2020.
“We’re proud this program has been a lifeblood for expanded serving capacity to help keep Denver businesses open and their employees working,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “We will work with restaurants and bars on creative models that allow them to extend this program through the cold weather months, while maintaining the strenuous protections in place to prevent COVID-19 transmission.”
Businesses not impacting the public right of way can request a 120-day extension past Oct. 31. Businesses that have expanded into the public right of way can request a 90-day extension past Oct. 31, allowing Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) to review street, sidewalk, alley, parking and travel lane closures associated with the program, according to the release on Tuesday.
Under new rules, businesses participating in the program can also apply for additional extensions after being approved for their 90 or 120-day extension. Each neighborhood impacted by the outdoor expansion extension will have the ability to request a public hearing to address issues such as concerning noise levels if they exist.
Denver joins major cities across the nation in supporting restaurants, with 333 restaurants and bars approved to expand their serving capacity outdoors in the Mile High City. In addition, more than $1.6 million in street occupancy fees have been waived by the city to make the program more affordable for applicants. Applications are still being accepted online.
One such restaurant: El Cazo Cocina and Cantina in the Jefferson Park neighborhood.
El Cazo currently has two outdoor sections blocked off: One on West 25th Avenue, the other on Eliot Street.
“Having the ability to be able to sit outside is beneficial,” says El Cazo General Manager Nate Meireles, “to those people who won’t come in.”
Meireles says tentative plans are already in place for outdoor seating during the winter months.
“The ability for us to have these tables outside and put a tent up with some heaters, is going to be beneficial and it’s needed for us to survive as a small business,” he said.
Denver will continue to offer process navigators to provide individual customer service to businesses as they navigate the process in applying or extending their outdoor expansion. Business owners can send questions about the program via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The city is also encouraging restaurants and bars who would like permanent outdoor patio expansion to begin the application process this fall.