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Sidewalk cafe permit fees temporarily waived for New Orleans restaurants

Updated: May. 18, 2020 at 5:24 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Restaurants in New Orleans will now be allowed to apply for sidewalk seating permits for free.

The city says this is an effort to help businesses recover.

As New Orleans restaurants opened to seating this weekend, some say they were happy with turn out.

"It was great seeing people coming out and just feeling like their lives were starting to get back together again, you know? And we've been at pains to try to make sure people feel very comfortable in our locations," Dat Dog Owner Constantine Georges said.

To help businesses get back on their feet, the city announced restaurants can apply for sidewalk seating permits free of charge temporarily.

"We want those businesses and their workers and employees to do that, but of course to do it safely and within the confines of the law," Zachary Smith, with the Dept. of Safety and Permits said.

Smith said businesses still need to apply for the permit.

"It's extremely important that we don't have an operator just set up in the sidewalk, blocking access to any pedestrians. Especially, violating ada guidelines and laws," Smith said.

He said tables and chairs must still be socially distanced and allow a minimum of four feet clearance for pedestrians.

Some businesses, like Velvet Cactus and Wrong Iron say they expanded seating into their parking lots.

"Inside, you know, with the table distancing required right now, it's not that much. so if you couldn't do your patio and your parking lot, you'd basically still be doing online ordering. I don't even know if it'd be worth it," Rusty White said.

Businesses that don't have outdoor seating, like The Daily Beet on Magazine, say they won't be applying for the permit.

"Unfortunately, for me, I have such limited sidewalk seating that it would be of little help, but not of much help, because I can probably only put about two more tables out there," The Daily Beet Owner Dylan Maisel said.

Georges says he has enough outdoor seating, but plans to put tables out at his Frenchmen location.

"We're considering putting some tables on the sidewalk itself to create more life on the street," Georges said.

Smith says businesses will need to provide a rendering of their outdoor seating plans for the permit application.

The fee waiver will last until September 30.

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