PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — new regulations for outdoor dining spaces in Philadelphia were issued by the city on Wednesday.
Through the pandemic and beyond, the open-air “streets” around Philadelphia have served as a source of income for hundreds of restaurants.
It has been no exception for Spoonie O’Neal at his namesake pub on South 3rd Street.
“It’s been tremendously good for us. People love it here,” O’Neal said.
But now he thinks he may have to bring it down.
He used tents as cover.
But the new regulations clearly state that this is not allowed.
“It doesn’t look business-friendly for us. It looks like we’d have to throw everything out and start from scratch,” O’Neal said.
He is just one example of where we saw streets that no longer meet the new standards.
Cotoletta Fitler Square remodeled a shipping container. That is no longer allowed.
The regulations also state that streets at certain intersections must have a 30-foot buffer zone from the corner. But there is much around the city that will clearly have to be moved.
Also, propane heaters have to go.
“Maybe if some streetery had a history of a lot of crashes or a lot of problems, fine, then look at that. But we haven’t had any incidents at all,” O’Neal said.
But not everyone feels like O’Neal.
Ben Fileccia of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association says initial regulations proposed earlier this year would have made it almost impossible for restaurants to operate a street.
“The original regulations had a bond of $60,000. They made that bond zero dollars. In any bad weather, you would have to remove your structure within 24 hours,” Fileccia said.
But he also acknowledges that some restaurants will be affected and hopes to rectify those issues in some way.
Many restaurants we spoke to say they weren’t even aware that new regulations had been put in place.
For restaurants who want to know what is and is not allowed, there are two upcoming webinar sessions hosted by the city: one on October 31 at 9:30 am and another on November 21 at 10:30 am.
While the regulations take effect immediately, restaurant owners will have a period of time to review the options available to them, prepare the necessary documents, submit applications, and remove existing street facilities that do not comply with the regulations.
“For the safety of our residents and visitors, it is imperative that businesses remove or make necessary adjustments to existing structures and configurations as soon as possible,” said Department of Licensing and Inspections Commissioner Ralph DiPietro. “Compliance is key to continued access to outdoor dining experiences. City agencies will support businesses through this process.”
Click here for more information on the new regulations.
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