Local Politics

Raleigh backs off crackdown on bar patios

Posted June 9, 2015
Updated June 10, 2015

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— City officials agreed Tuesday to work with bar owners and others on new regulations for outdoor dining in Raleigh.

A proposed ordinance change would have limited city outdoor dining permits to establishments that garner no more than 70 percent of their annual revenue from alcohol sales.

Downtown bar owners who have added patios or sidewalk seating in recent years protested the move, with Zack Medford, the owner of Paddy O'Beers on Fayetteville Street, gathering more than 8,000 signatures on an online petition to block the change.

"It upsets me a lot that the city created this ordinance without talking to any of us. Nobody from the hospitality industry was consulted at first," Medford said. "If we hadn't raised our voices so loudly, I think this ordinance would have been passed through without anyone noticing."

Opponents wearing T-shirts reading "#SavethePatios" rallied Tuesday and then marched to City Hall to fight the proposal.

"All of us who took a risk to come down here just want a fair shot at having a successful business," said Brett Wells, who owns the Tasty 8's gourmet hot dog shop on Fayetteville Street.

Wells said outdoor seating has been key to his eatery's success since it opened 10 months ago, and it also benefits other businesses and their customers.

"People come downtown, (and) they want to experience the vibrancy," he said. "Eliminating their ability to have patrons sit outside would really affect their business and could potentially put them out of business. Some of these guys were here even before Fayetteville Street was even taking off."

Jennifer Martin, executive director of Shop Local Raleigh, said bar patios and sidewalk seating has helped Raleigh's growing downtown economy.

"We've got a lot of businesses that have come down here on Fayetteville Street to be a part of this growth," Martin said. "Taking that away, I think that's going to set a precedent in this area. ... I don't think we're going to get those same type of businesses back, (the ones) that people love, if we're changing."

City officials said safety is a big reason changes are needed, especially on weekend nights when throngs of people block downtown sidewalks. Special events, such as First Night Raleigh and July 4th celebrations, also require special outdoor permits, they said.

After the show of force from bar patio supporters, the Raleigh City Council's Law & Public Safety Committee recommended creating a hospitality task force where business owners and city staff can work together to address the city's concerns with overcrowded sidewalks.

22 Comments

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  • Jacob Smith Jun 10, 2015
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    I smoked for many years - I can truly say I was ADDICTED.

    Once I bought my first E-Cig I never smoked again and can certainly FEEL the difference.

  • Paul Jones Jun 10, 2015
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    Charlie, what lies told in the 1930s?

    I don't drink alcohol myself. In my life, I've had very little. Most of which I have had was in Europe where it's fairly common to have a glass of wine with dinner.

    There's a big difference between being a drunk and having a glass of wine or a shot of whiskey. You really believe that every consumer of alcohol is a drunk? Seriously, you need to wake up and visit other countries and become culturally educated.

    NC still has some truly draconian laws related to alcohol. It's illegal, for example, for me to give my son a glass of wine at dinner at home. Nobody would say a word in Paris, Switzerland, Italy, and many other countries.

    If NC needs to wake up, it should be to wake up to the fact it's a backward place.

  • Kristin Byrne Jun 10, 2015
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    Boo hoo. I'm a former smoker, and I'm really tired of hearing smokers complain about their rights being taken away. Even when I was smoking, I loved that they passed the smoking ban. It was much more pleasant to sit inside when you weren't sitting in a cloud of smoke.

    My husband recently quit smoking after smoking 2 packs a day for 20 years. Stop the excuses and just admit you don't want to quit.

  • Ben Sanders Jun 10, 2015
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    Yes. Willpower is an amazing thing, and my health only benefits from it.

  • Angie Cox Jun 10, 2015
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    I realize I can't smoke inside a bar. my point is I'm sick of hearing ex smokers gripe about smokers sitting on the patio. we are forced there. and no I cannot go a day without smoking. it's the tobacco state and they put something addictive in cigs. can you go a day without coffee or caffeine?

  • Ben Sanders Jun 10, 2015
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    Smokers are allowed in restaurants and bars. You just can't smoke while you're inside. No one is forcing you to sit on the patio and nobody is taking away your rights. Just go an evening without smoking. Is it really that difficult?

  • Mark Hubbard Jun 10, 2015
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    Perhaps common sense will prevail. There never was a correlation between how rowdy a place's patrons are and whether or not food is served. Paddy's and Foundation are two of the most laid back places downtown and yet they'd have been kicked off the sidewalk instead of places like Oxford, Times, and Big Easy which completely overtake their stretch of sidewalk....which is fine. Bottom line either you allow seating on the sidewalk or you don't. I'd like to also promote my overall solution which is to just define an open container area downtown (like Savannah) and let people have at it. As an aside I'd also limit the Trolley Pub to this open container area. Cheers ya'll.

  • Angie Cox Jun 10, 2015
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    because you won't let smokers in restaurants/bars etc. I am forced to sit outside on the patio whether there's bird poo, pollen, cold, hot, rain so please do not take away the patio seating. and if you don't like cigarette smoke, don't sit on the patio. our rights were taken away so get over it or don't sit outside. thanks!

  • Angie Cox Jun 10, 2015
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    Golden Corral doesn't amongst TONS of other restaurants....

  • Roger Way Jun 10, 2015
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    Ya know - when you buy a house in the jet path of a busy airport, a RATIONAL individual must anticipate some level of noise and take responsibility for the choice. The same is true of moving into an apartment overlooking a busy urban business district. There is going to be noise! There is going to be congestion! You can't simply move in THEN demand that everyone around you change THEIR ways. Oh wait! I may be overlooking the rude indifference of our upscale narcissistic urban "I'm more important than you" society and our "Anything for a Buck" political "leaders".

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