Local News

Bar owner: 'Confusing' city rule on sidewalk seating linked to citation

Posted August 27, 2015
Updated August 28, 2015

— Two weeks after Raleigh's new rules on sidewalk seating for bars and restaurants took effect, the city has issued 20 warnings and one bar owner is facing a court date.

The new ordinance limits the hours and the number of tables for patio dining.

Zack Medford, who owns three downtown bars including Paddy O’Beers, claims that he was trying to fall in line, but that the city's ordinance is confusing.
“The problem is the rules of the ordinance keep changing,” said Medford.

A new compliance unit is taking stock of sidewalk seating along Raleigh's Fayetteville Street.
Medford says he's changed his seating layout four times over the course of two weeks at their direction.
Medford points to the bars’ split layout, where tables are on either side of the sidewalk.
Originally he was told that tables could only be on the side closest to the building so, when his co-workers realized city benches on the other side didn't allow enough room for pedestrians to walk down the middle, they unbolted the benches and moved them. This resulted in a citation for destruction of city property.

Medford says that he does not blame the city for his co-workers’ hasty decision to remove the benches, but he wants to figure out how the bar can comply with the ordinance.

A few days later, the split-layout was actually deemed to be OK. That decision was up to the Wake County Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, which made an exception after coming to see the street.

Medford believes the city should've ironed out the kinks before implementing the ordinance.
“We should've taken the time, gathered the data and talked to the right people and get it right the first time,” Medford said.

City council member Mary-Ann Baldwin said that during this trial period – the ordinance has a trial run through Sept. 8 -- only warnings, not citations, will be given out to bar and restaurant owners.

“Maybe we should've had all these issues straightened out instead of telling bar owners one thing one week, one thing another week,” Baldwin said. “But like I said, that's why we have a trial period.”
The city is actually putting together a brochure on the dos and don'ts of sidewalk seating. They hope to have it out to businesses next week.

Once the trial ends, bar and restaurant owners could face fines of up to $500 as well as the loss of their patio permit for noncompliance.

As for Medford, he and his partners are due in court in October to answer to the citation for destruction of city property.


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  • Steve Faulkner Aug 28, 2015
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    I agree, the charge has nothing to do with the outdoor seating "regulation".

  • Johan Summer Aug 28, 2015
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    Couldn't agree with you more. Raleigh is becoming like Cary - so picky about everything - and wonder why folks no longer like to visit downtown anymore. Raleigh has turned into a money-hungry, greedy, "do it my way or the highway" city. Sure do wish the older Raleigh atmosphere, ways of being citizen friendly and caring would return. I too will drive elsewhere to eat. If they do keep this up - the restaurants will move out..... which is what they want anyway to make room for the BIGGER companies to grease their palms.

  • James Powell Aug 28, 2015
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    im not sure what "confusing" city rule led to his citation. if im reading this correctly he got the citation for unbolting the park benches and moved them. common sense should of stopped that...of course these days common sense is confusing for some.

  • Cheree Teasley Aug 28, 2015
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    Wait, the "trial" period is running through the 8th of Sept. They hooe to have a brochure explaining the rules they HOPE by next week.

    The businesses need to cry foul. Obviously they had no intention of using this trial period to test the impact. They never intended this to be a trial at all. it's the 28th!!

    All of these busy bodies down town makingall these very unpleasant changes are causing me to have negative feelings toward the area in general. I love what it was becoming, but for some reason there's a lot of moving backwards. 10 years ago I wasn't spending my money downtown. I was starting to head that way every other weekend. Now, I can't help but feel less welcome. At the very least, I feel less appreciated. I hope some of the nicer places to eat move up and out, because I don't want to have to pay to park to pay for dinner. I'd rather go to Brier Creek and just spend it in gas.

  • Roger Way Aug 28, 2015
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    One of the lures of tourist-friendly cities is outdoor seating on a beautiful day or evening. I have never understood this concept of moving one's residence into a noisy, commercial, urban area and demanding the area to change to suit your Johnny-Come-Lately demands. Stupid. If this were my business, I would close it and move to one of the business-friendly communities.

  • Steven Natalie Perkins Aug 28, 2015
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    You know, if they would have just left Fayetteville street a giant sidewalk...

  • Jack Harris Aug 28, 2015
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    Seems to me that someone in the Planning/City should have used the million dollar CAD program that they have to do a layout first??

  • Marcy Lyn Aug 28, 2015
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    How about " What if these businesses just up and leave downtown " ? Parking is terrible to begin with and I avoid it all together now.

  • Teddy Fowler Aug 28, 2015
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    City of Raleigh is getting more anti downtown business every week it seems... I for one do not see why they need to mess around with success in downtown...

  • Lou Pascucci Aug 28, 2015
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    Creating a brochure? How about a quick one page website that explains it, and how about making it mobile friendly so when an owner wants to know how a rule works, he can just jump on his phone and figure it out instead of trying to remember where he put the brochure. Plus, when it changes again they don't have to waste a ton of paper reprinting. C'mon Raleigh.