Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Outdoor dining on Main St.

Last month the Woodstock City Council approved an outdoor dining area for the recently renovated D.C. Cobb's restaurant at 226 Main Street, and tonight D.C. Cobbs will be back to ask for a liquor license to serve alcoholic beverages to its customers seated on the City's sidewalk.

Now, first of all, I don't have any problem with alcoholic beverage served to restaurant customers, and I don't have any problems with the kiddies coming out of the movie theater seeing anyone drinking a beer or glass of wine or mixed drink with his dinner in an outdoor seating area.

My comments here are about whether the City Council should even have approved an outdoor seating area outside this restaurant (or any other restaurant on the east side of Main Street). There just isn't enough room there for the rest of the public to use the public sidewalk! (Click on either image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

The problem was obvious up the street at successors to the old Tip Top Cafe. The sidewalk on Cass Street is wider; that wasn't so much of a problem. However, on the Main Street side, the outdoor seating obviously impeded the flow of pedestrian traffic.

A diagram submitted to the City Council clearly omitted the decorative pole right in front of D.C. Cobbs. The base of the pole is a little more than 12" from the curb and will be close to the center of the required four feet of clear pedestrian passage required by the City Council.

Will the front bumper overhang of parked vehicles mark the street side of the required four feet of clearance? Or will the four feet start from the curb?

The restaurant's measurements put the width of the sidewalk at 114". They then allow for an 8" bumper overhang, leaving 106". Knock out 48" for pedestrians, even if they do have fight their way around the decorative street pole. That leaves 58". Then there will be a 4"-wide fence with planters. Will 4' of clearance exist between the planters and the front bumper of a car? Let's assume the plants just grow straight up.

This leaves 54" for outdoor dining. The restaurant plans to place tables against the front wall that are 29"x29". That leaves 25" for the customers and the waitstaff to maneuver between the tables and inside edge of the fence. Get out your tape measure. Twenty-five inches isn't all that much for a waiter with a tray of food or drinks.
Will the tables seat only two, or will a third chair face the open windows of the building front? If a third chair is in place, then that customer, his chair and the waiter have to fit into that 25". What if four people want to sit at an outdoor table?

The sidewalk on the east side of Main Street just isn't wide enough for outdoor seating, especially if passersby stop to chat with diners. And waiters will have to keep an eagle eye out for diners who might offer a bit of refreshment to someone walking by.

A member of the waiter staff is to be present when alcohol has been served outside. Does that condition allow him or her time to run into the kitchen to pick up orders or to go to the bar to fetch drink orders? Is this possibly an unfair condition on the restaurant, in that it might require a full-time waiter outside, unable to leave his post?

1 comment:

kastone66 said...

Seriously Gus, you have way too much time on your hands. Maybe Dan should only allow skinny people to dine on the sidewalk....I didn't see that you figured in the BMI of the people that might sit outside. Now, you might have to adjust those number once they have consumed some fatty beer.