Covington to Allow Restaurants to Expand Outdoor Seating into Sidewalks, Parking Lots and Streets

The ReCov initiative encourages restaurants to apply for temporary outdoor dining expansions to combat coronavirus-related financial strains

May 29, 2020 at 2:14 pm
click to enlarge Ripple Wine Bar patio taking form - Photo:
Ripple Wine Bar patio taking form

As the economy slowly reopens after the several-months-long shut-down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the restaurant and bar scene on both sides of the Ohio River is experiencing a new normal. 

Covington is launching an initiative called ReCov (Recover Covington) where they aim to offer expanded patio options to businesses within the city in order to comply with state capacity restrictions to allow for social distancing.

The city is utilizing sidewalks, parking lots, open spaces and sometimes on-street parking to give local businesses the opportunity to offer more outdoor seating to their guests, in hopes of combating coronavirus-related financial strains (more space equals more seats equals more guests equals more money) and promote a safe environment for employees and customers.

“One of Covington’s greatest attractions is its unique restaurants that serve everything from Korean bento boxes to Guatemalan chicken to bar-b-cue smoked outdoors near a brewery,” Economic Development Director Tom West said in a release.

“But those restaurants have been one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy, and we want to give them the best possible chance of not only surviving the pandemic but also successfully navigating the reopening. Additional seating is important, equally so is making sure that the new dining experience feels safe and is safe.”

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear's current COVID-19 regulations restrict indoor dining to 33% capacity, which means many businesses will need to expand outside. 

Businesses can apply for a free permit online and must provide a diagram that illustrates their proposed plan. 

According to the press release, the requirements are as follows:

  • On-street parking is to be used as a last resort, and any temporary seating there must be blocked off with weighted, fillable barricades. (The City has a limited supply available on a first-come, first-served basis.)
  • Restaurants must obtain from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control an expansion of their ABC license.
  • All diners must have a seat. A “No seat, no service” policy will be strictly enforced.
  • Restaurants may operate the temporary dining seven days a week but must shut down at 10 p.m. each night. Overnight, tables and chairs must be secured and sanitized.
  • It’s the restaurant’s responsibility to clean up trash.
  • Patrons, chairs and tables must be placed in a way that abides by 6-foot social distancing guidelines and ADA guidelines and preserves a 48-inch walkway on public sidewalks.

Through the month of June, Covington is offering free short-term parking at city meters as well as off-street parking lots. 

“We know restaurants in particular have suffered under the shutdown, and we’re doing what we can to encourage people to patronize those businesses,” said City Manager David Johnston in a press release. 

For more information, reach out to Josh Rhodes, a former Covington restaurant manager who is working with business involved in the program. His email is [email protected].

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