Local News

Supporters Push For More Outside Dining In Downtown Raleigh

Posted July 31, 2006

— Downtown Raleigh supporters are pushing for restaurants to offer outdoor seating on the new Fayetteville Street as a way to help bring life to the newly opened roadway.

"It's really going to help convey a sense of activity, a sense of energy that people are here, that they are enjoying their stay in downtown," said Kris Larson, deputy director of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

While the Downtown Raleigh Alliance is encouraging outdoor seating, it is also encouraging the city to change the permitting process.

Currently, it can take up to two months for a restaurant to get approval to put tables on the sidewalk. The new process, which could be in place by fall, would take only days.

It would also be very specific as to where tables are allowed so that walking zones on the street are not blocked.

The street was designed for outdoor seating and planters serve as a buffer between diners and the street. The wide sidewalks allow for tables against the storefronts and more closer to the curb. In the middle is a seven-foot walking zone.

"The pedestrians are the customers of downtown, and we want to make sure they have access to everyone's buildings whether you have a café or not," said Dan Douglas, director of the Raleigh Urban Design Center.

Although most support the concept, some onlookers wonder how it will all fit together.

"It strikes me as busy, just like a room with too much furniture," said business owner Kieran Shanahan.

But busy is what city leaders have said they want.

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