Public dining area offers local restaurants relief during pandemic
Downtown Beaverton is offering a new public dining option. The 1st Street Dining Commons is a partnership with Lionheart Coffee Company to provide additional appropriately social-distanced outdoor dining options to city residents this summer.
"We are so happy to partner with the city to provide a communal space for our neighbors to safely gather and enjoy downtown restaurants," said Lauren Reese, Lionheart Coffee Company owner. "Having a space like this available may be the difference that allows our restaurant community to thrive during this time."
The new space is operating as part of the Open Air Beaverton program, which was adopted in June and is helping area businesses safely serve customers and promote small business recovery. The program allows food, recreation and other establishments impacted by physical-distancing requirements to temporarily expand outdoors into areas normally reserved for vehicles. Similar businesses located in downtown Beaverton also are allowed to temporarily expand into the parking lanes of city streets, with approval via a free city-issued permit.
"Beaverton is constantly seeking new ways to help our community members impacted by COVID-19," said Mayor Denny Doyle. "Our program is modeled after successful examples in other cities. We all want to see our local businesses survive this challenging time and provide healthy opportunities for our residents to get outside and enjoy their neighborhoods."
Temporary outdoor dining has become commonplace across the nation as restaurants continue to fight for their business lives amid the ongoing pandemic. Restaurants are typically low-margin businesses, even when dining rooms can be filled to maximum occupancy. But now, in many cities and states where indoor dining is allowed again, restaurants must operate with reduced capacity — often 25% to start.
While this is done with public health in mind to allow for social distancing, it complicates the economic picture for many restaurant owners as they decide whether to reopen their dining rooms. Programs like the Open Air Beaverton program offer business owners options during a time when few seem to exist.
To accommodate the 1st Street Dining Commons, the city has closed one block of Southwest 1st Street between Southwest Watson and Washington. The 1st Street Dining Commons opens daily at 7 a.m. and will remain open until 8 p.m. through Oct. 31, and includes properly spaced seating for customers to enjoy takeout, including closed containers of alcohol, from any of downtown Beaverton's many restaurants.
Despite spacing to promote social distancing, masks are required in the area when social distancing isn't possible consistent with the state's new mandate. While outdoor dining programs are happening in many cities, the 1st Street Dining Commons is unique in that it repurposes the street entirely for public space.
Lionheart Coffee Company is responsible for day-to-day operations including making sure the space is safe and sanitary. The area is intended for safe-distanced dining and is not intended for large gatherings or events.
"It's wonderful to see our downtown businesses come together and be part of the positive response to COVID-19," Doyle said. "I'm excited to have this great amenity in Beaverton."
Last month, the city issued its first permit for public parking expansion to Raindrop Tap House, located at 4545 S.W. Angel Ave.
"I am deeply grateful that the city is so willing to help small businesses such as mine during this crisis," said Mark Foster of Raindrop Tap House. "Beaverton's commitment to helping ensure small businesses succeed is fantastic!"
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