PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is a battle over the future of outdoor dining in Philadelphia. Love it or hate it, it’s become a way of life in the city and a lifeline to help restaurants stay afloat.
Expand it for six months or make it permanent? Those two are on the table Tuesday. This as outdoor dining is set to expire by the end of the year.
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Every streetery has its own vision and its own vibe.
“You can’t go by a place and not notice the tables and the streetscape,” Jack’s Firehouse owner Mick Houston said.
The makeshift restaurant additions feature seasonal decor, fire pits, and most importantly, more tables.
These elaborate setups were not cheap and businesses say it kept them alive during the worst of times.
“It was a lifeline to have people just sit outside, realized we were back open,” Houston said.
But now, that COVID-19 lifeline is running out.
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The outdoor dining licenses are set to expire at the end of the year, and City Council is split on what to do.
Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke says he wants to extend it for six months, and Councilmember Allan Domb wants to make it permanent.
Domb posted these pictures on Twitter showing active outdoor licenses before June of 2020 and now active licenses since June of 2020 proving a 260% increase.
A 260% increase in outdoor dining licenses shows that restaurants of all sizes used the new outdoor program as a lifeline to keep their doors open and employees working. We need to continue providing an equal opportunity for businesses to have this option as a permanent feature. pic.twitter.com/EZX5ZlPxXP
— Allan Domb (@TeamDomb) November 8, 2021
Restaurant owners and workers alike say they hope the streeteries are here to stay, especially since it gives guests the option.
“There is such a fear of the unknown and just the option for people to be outside, have that space, be able to sit down in a tent, with a covering and know they can get some good food was a piece of mind at that point that we didn’t have for that long,” Marathon Grill manager Kristin Smith said.
They are also looking forward to the future.
“Look forward to the day where masks and worrying about outdoor seating is over with,” Houston said.
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Both councilmembers will pitch their plans Tuesday at 9 a.m.
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