ROYAL OAK, MI (WXYZ) — The city of Royal Oak is updating its rules for outdoor street dining, a craze that became increasingly popular during the pandemic.
But as case numbers continue to drop around the state and COVID restrictions ease, the city says it wants to take a more seasonal approach to the outdoor seating area.
Street patios will now be allowed in a limited capacity from April 1 through October 31, and business owners will need to meet certain requirements.
17 restaurants in Royal Oak are currently using street patios.
“A restaurant can apply to maintain those street patios,” Royal Oak City Manager Paul Brake said.
Brake says there's a new design standard to maintain street area dining.
Restaurants now have to go through a formal review process to make sure their street patios comply with building standards and don’t interfere with stormwater management.
The new rules are an effort by the city to formalize what was a pretty casual pivot to help local restaurants stay afloat in the midst of capacity limits due to the pandemic.
These changes don’t apply to sidewalk cafes or outdoor dining spaces that don’t utilize the street or public parking. Those do require licenses, but those rules aren’t changing.
Alchemi owner, John Prepolec won't be impacted by the new street patio rules. He thinks the restaurants that will, will be okay, especially with expanded parking in the city.
“The last three or four months have been our first opportunity to see what this business is going to look like under any type of a normal condition," he said "You know people are coming out, business is strong right now.”
Businesses with patios or tents who want to keep them during the cold months will need approval from the city.
The city has already sent out letters to restaurants with current permits to alert them to the changes.
Restaurants that don’t meet the city’s standards for street dining will have until May 1 to take down any outdoor equipment.