Sun Prairie restaurants and bars struggling during the COVID-19 restrictions can start serving food and alcohol at street cafés.
The emergency order approved by the city council on Tuesday, June 16 will allow restaurants and bars to skip a lengthy review process to get their “streateries” up and running.
The temporary dining and bar areas can operate from 7 a.m. to dusk on sidewalks, in parking lots and even city streets. Public hearings, typical with conditional use permits, won’t be required under the emergency order that is set to end Oct. 31.
Sun Prairie restaurant owners urged the city to move forward on the idea after seeing the trend pop up around the United States as businesses deal with the pandemic.
Restaurants and bars have been some of the hardest-hit businesses during the pandemic—shutdown for inside dining and bar areas. Restrictions have been eased over the last month with Dane County entered Phase 2 of COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, June 15 that allows restaurants to operate at 50 percent capacity.
City staff recommended the temporary outdoor dining emergency order to help out businesses.
“If you were to tell restaurants that they could operate at 50 percent for the rest of the summer, they are going to tell you that’s pretty bad. That doesn’t give them leeway to make a successful go of it,” City of Sun Prairie Community Development Director Scott Kugler told alders at the June 16 Committee of the Whole meeting.
District 3 Alder Mike Jacobs successfully amended the original emergency order at Tuesday’s meeting to include bars, and help them attract customers who are still wary of stepping inside.
“Bars have been hardest hit of any businesses, and if you look at the list of bad places to be at (during the COVID-19 pandemic) it is inside at a bar,” Jacobs said. “We are talking about helping our businesses for the short-term.”
Business owners will still need to apply to the city but Kugler said it will be fast-tracked—instead of taking several months, it could take a week to get approval. There will be no public hearings and city staff would have the power to approve the requests, with a review by the Sun Prairie Police Department.
Kugler acknowledged that the city does get noise complaint from residents on restaurants and bars that operate outside dining areas and the new emergency order could have an impact on businesses’ neighbors.
Business owners that get approval for streateries will need to mark off the area where they will serve food and drinks. They also can’t put up lighting and will need to take in tables and other temporary structures each night.
No amplified music will be allowed under the emergency order.