A welcome sight at restaurants across the state this week after Minnesota Governor Tim Walz loosened restrictions to allow for outdoor dining as of June 1. But some business owners are getting creative to stay competitive.
On the outdoor patio at Chanticlear Pizza Grill, the employees serve customers while wearing masks and gloves. And they have eleven tables outside, which are set six feet apart for partial seating due to COVID-19 and the safety precautions in place.
"We’ve been working for a week and a half on getting a temporary outdoor dining policy, which was implemented starting Monday, June 1,” said Joan Lenzmeier, the Coon Rapids City Clerk in charge of business licenses.
Lenzmeier has already approved a handful of businesses, with several more going through the application process.
"So I have eight of our liquor license holder restaurants that are operational if they’re not already,” said Lenzmeier. “Some of them started on Monday, and that looks different for everyone."
El Loro Mexican Restaurant expanded their outdoor dining area to allow for six additional tables. As of last week, the Texas Roadhouse only offered curbside service and food to go. That is until Friday, when they submitted an application for temporary outdoor dining, behind the restaurant for a maximum of fifty patrons.
"It all came in, in one package,” Lenzmeier said. “They had everything there, they had answered all the questions. I was able to meet with the fire marshal. He went out, took a look at the site, said he was comfortable and I gave them an administrative approval before the end of the day."
“Outdoors, we’re ready to go,” said Ray McManus, owner of the Shortstop Bar and Grill.
Two large tents are already up in the parking lot to allow for more space for distancing in outdoor dining at the Shortstop.
"The parking lot tents were in such demand that we put them up a few weeks earlier so that we could secure them from the vendor,” said McManus.
The Shortstop is doing a reconstruction project with the installation of a new sink, food prep area and walk-in cooler. Plans are to reopen to the public on Monday, June 15.
Lenzmeier says the city is expediting the application process for both existing and temporary outdoor dining spaces.
It’s our priority to help them get open and so once I get all the information I need I meet with community development and the fire marshal, we’ll go out to the site, as long as it’s safe, meets the minimum standards we’ve established, we will approve it right on the spot, and then we ask (City) Council to ratify it at their next meeting."
Details on the Coon Rapids temporary outdoor dining policy and application form can be found here.