Café Alfresco Plans Could Get Approval Tonight

After a months-long battle, the downtown restaurant might get to install a protective awning over its outdoor dining area.

After being rebuffed in their attempt to install a larger, retractable awning to fully cover their outdoor patio, employees at might finally get their wish. 

The city commission is reconsidering its February ruling in which it upheld a decision to allow improvements to outdoor dining areas, provided the changes are not permanent and the public area can be restored to its original condition. 

The owners of the popular Main Street eatery have been trying to get the city to allow them to properly shield diners from sun, debris and animals by putting in an awning that will cover the entire outdoor area, as well as install a fence that will prevent patrons from leaving the patio with open containers. 

“This was part of the deal when we gave the city our property,” Café Alfresco general manager Roger Grube said of the land the restaurant donated for the recently completed Oak Tree Plaza. “We gave them a piece of prime property downtown, and all we asked for is an awning in return. I think that’s a fair trade.” 

The restaurant wants to install posts that will allow the awning to cover the entire 21-foot length of the patio. The current cover, which is attached to the building, runs only 15 feet.

"It's an expensive undertaking for us," Grube noted. "We're not asking for any money to do this."

A city ordinance for design standards for outdoor areas states "all outdoor dining elements ... shall be non-permanent and readily removable, and where applicable, cause no damage to the surface and the right-of-way."

The commission originally believed umbrellas would provide sufficient protection for diners while offering minimal visual intrusions to the downtown district landscape.

But research has shown that umbrellas do not properly prevent pollen, leaves and twigs from getting in the food, nor do they provide enough protection from the sun and inclement weather.

In addition to the awning decision, the commission is expected to rule on the fencing.

Jayne Krakowiak June 07, 2012 at 05:46 PM
I fully support the larger awning however, I think the Commissioners' idea that the public should be able to access and use tables & seating in the public area when the restaurant is closed should also be accommodated. Since part of the patio that Cafe Alfresco is planning to extend the awning over is now public area; a fence should not be placed around the entire patio area.


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