Sidewalk café ordinance clears first filing

Sidewalk café ordinance clears first filing

An ordinance that would allow restaurants to operate sidewalk cafés on public sidewalks was filed for the first of three times at Monday’s Spencer City Council meeting.

If the ordinance is filed three times, restaurants – including those on Grand Avenue – could set up sidewalk cafés as long as 50 percent of their gross revenue comes from food sales.

“I think the intent behind that is we don’t necessarily want beer gardens along Grand Avenue,” city manager Amanda Mack said of the revenue source stipulation.

Alcoholic beverages could be consumed in the cafe area if purchased in the restaurant.

The council’s vote on the first filing was 6-0 in favor, with Ward 5 council member Ron Hanson not voting due to absence.

The cafés could operate 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. from April to October. A strip of the sidewalk along the cafés at least five feet wide would need to be left open for pedestrians.

Ward 2 council member Bill Orrison asked how the city could monitor that a restaurant operating a sidewalk cafe would have more than 50% of its gross revenue coming from food sales and not alcohol.

City attorney Don Hemphill said he would check to see if there is a way that information could be obtained from state liquor license applications.

Originally, the ordinance text proposed a café operation time of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. However, Ward 1 council member Tom Nelson made an amendment that was also approved 6-0 to change the open time to 6 a.m.

“You’ve got Grand Avenue (Community) Outreach and you’ve got the bakery, you know Carroll’s opens at 5:30 (a.m.),” Nelson said. “And a nice, warm summer morning, they’ve got early coffee drinkers and so on. I think if they decided to do something like this – I don’t know if they will or they won’t – but it’d be nice for them to have that option rather than have to wait until 7 (a.m.).”

Mack said the ordinance only applies to restaurants.

“It’s not an opportunity for merchandise to be sold on sidewalks,” Mack said. “It truly is for an extension of a restaurant.”

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