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Philly extends simple sidewalk cafe rules, but what of ‘streateries’?

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)- What does the future hold for the innovative outdoor dining extensions that many restaurants created during the pandemic? Philadelphia City Council on Tuesday addressed two important aspects of the new normal of outdoor dining.

The first issue is the process of securing a permit for outdoor restaurant seating on sidewalks, which Ben Fileccia, with the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, says was simplified during the pandemic.

People dining outdoors
Diners enjoy the streetery on Sansom St. in Rittenhouse. Photo credit Holli Stephens, KYW Newsradio

City Council agreed to a one-year extension to that streamlined process. So outdoor sidewalk cafes will continue until Dec. 21, 2022. Before the pandemic, it could take several months or even as long as a year.

The second issue is a bill in City Council that would make ‘streeteries,’ those outdoor dining structures built in parking spaces in front of restaurants, permanent. It came out of committee with several amendments.

Among the revisions, said Fileccia: “No streeteries can be located in a travel lane or bike lane. So, there are some areas in the city, like 13th Street and 18th Street for example, that one side of the road — those streeteries will have to come down.”

Fileccia says other amendments took into consideration issues of safety, traffic and design.

“This bill will allow, I would say, 70% to 80% of streeteries to remain.”

Council could vote on whether to make streeteries permanent in Philadelphia as early as Dec. 2.

Fileccia says if that measure passes, it will not only help the businesses, but will also make the city look better, because operators would be motivated to spend money on design and safety.

“Without knowing that these will be permanent, it’s very hard to make investments,” he said.

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