Restaurant outdoor dining on sidewalks and parks under proposed pilot

Coronavirus

Honolulu’s Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the city could provide parking spots in front of restaurants for ‘parklets’ or open-up portions of sidewalks and parks for restaurant seating, as part of reopening for dine-in customers during the pandemic.

The state has not announced a date to allow customers to eat inside restaurants, but Caldwell is proposing a pilot program to create more outdoor space for customers and suggests June 5 as a date to reopen.

“What we are going to be doing on a pilot basis is allow sidewalk and outdoor dining for our restaurants if they are beside sidewalks or right next to our parks,” Caldwell said. “Of course allow at least 36 inches to allow people to walk by you.”

The mayor mentioned restaurants on pedestrian malls could extend seating up to 20-feet from their property.

Caldwell said, “City parks or playgrounds your limit is to use the first seven feet from the property line into our park or basically one row of tables.”

The Morning Brew Owner, Peter Anderson, said he predicts more customers will want to sit outside his shops in Kakaako and Kailua.

“I personally feel customers will actually feel more comfortable dining outdoors,” Anderson said. “Realistically we’ll probably be able to utilize maybe half of our square footage as far as table placement.”

He said he is pulling tables off the floor to space out customers. He would be open to expanding his outdoor seating area a few feet if possible.

Anderson said, “That’s going to be something we will have to workout with the property manager, I am not sure exactly what the guidelines will be for that, whether they will allow that right away or it’s something that we phase into.”

The Muphy’s Bar and Grill owner, Don Murphy, said he will not be among the first to reopen once the state sets a date.

Murphy said, “We would be ready but I am not sure that I would open right away, I might wait a week or so to see how it unfolds and see what the problems are going to be.”

Murphy said each restaurant is unique with its own set of challenges and while some proposals could work for some locations, the sidewalk dining pilot would not work for him.

Murphy said, “For us downtown, we got rough sidewalks and street people and everything else, so it’s not going to be that easy, but it’s a terrific idea for everybody else.”

Caldwell said he proposed the pilot program during a meeting with the governor and the other county mayors.

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