Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6 – Northwest Seattle), Chair of the City’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee, with the support of area business owners, announced the official extension of the city’s existing Cafe Streets program through May 31, 2022. The program enables restaurants and other retail storefronts to utilize streets outside of their businesses for outdoor dining or displays for an additional year and creates a path to permanency.
Small business representatives and restaurant owners described the positive impacts of extending the cafe streets pilot program for an additional year, which will enable restaurants and other retail storefronts to utilize streets outside of their businesses for outdoor dining or displays.
“After hearing from many small businesses about the success of the city’s ‘Cafe Streets’ program, I partnered with Council President González to create a permanent program for businesses to continue using outdoor space, creating vibrancy in neighborhoods and business districts,” said Councilmember Strauss. “The legislation extends the free café, display, and vending permits, which business owners have told me saved their businesses. By giving them the flexibility to use their entrepreneurial drive to stay open during changing public health regulations, businesses who pivoted their model to using these permits aren’t as impacted by changing public health guidelines.”
Strauss extended special appreciation to the office of Mayor Durkan and Seattle Department of Transportation for their cooperation and recognized the efforts of many individuals who helped to ensure this program was affordable and ensured that retailers and restaurant owner’s permits were approved, and will continue to be accessible in the months ahead. “The City provided these permits and then got out of the way – this program is successful because of the entrepreneurial spirit of our local businesses,” added Strauss.
“The Café Streets program has been a lifeline for many businesses and this extension means more of our small businesses will now have the opportunity to expand their service outdoors to serve their customers and contribute to our City’s recovery. Café Streets have transformed blocks all across Seattle, and helped activate our public spaces to become more welcoming and inclusive. Let’s make this pandemic practice permanent and bolster vibrancy for our neighborhood businesses and downtown,” Council President González.
“This approach gives Ballard Alliance businesses and others the agility needed to remain open during changing public health guidelines and continue working toward economic recovery,” said Mike Stewart, executive director of the Ballard Alliance. “The Ballard business community looks forward to the opportunity to work with Councilmember Strauss and city leaders to chart a course for a long-term future for street cafes.”
“For Hattie’s Hat, the ability to operate a street cafe helped us survive 2020 but we still have a long way to go to recover from the financial impacts resulting from the pandemic. The community response to street cafes has been very positive and I think the demand for outdoor dining will only increase,” said Max Genereaux, owner, Hattie’s Hat.
As the long term effects of this pandemic are still uncertain, the street cafes are an opportunity to offer our customers a place to feel comfortable and safe to gather so we can strengthen our friendships and start healing as a community,” Hannah Carter, owner, Bitterroot BBQ.
“The Ballard Farmers Market is very appreciative of the street cafes. Working with the restaurants and businesses on Ballard Avenue, these structures allow the farmers a safe and secure structure to vend on Sundays. We strongly support asking the city to allow these structures to be permanent.” said Doug Farr, Executive Director with Ballard Farmers Market .
“Café streets allow us to begin to dream of all the ways the public right of ways – our streets and sidewalks – can be used for so many other things than just car storage and moving people in cars,” said Anna Zivarts, Director of the Disability Mobility Initiative at Disability Rights Washington. “Disabled people, especially those of us who can’t drive, love to see our local communities and our neighborhood businesses thriving, but we also want to emphasize how important it is to ensure our sidewalks remain accessible. I encourage all businesses utilizing the free sidewalk and curb space permits to make sure you’re familiar with and follow the guidelines to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can continue to get around and enjoy our city.”
The extension of the Cafe Streets program builds on Council’s support of small businesses during the pandemic. This includes the Bringing Business Home ordinance, which allows microbusinesses to operate in their homes; grants for small businesses through the Small Business Stabilization Fund; and direct financial support for workers in the restaurant, bar and hospitality industries.