Local Politics

Raleigh proposes curfew on sidewalk dining downtown

Posted July 28, 2015 5:34 p.m. EDT
Updated July 28, 2015 11:14 p.m. EDT

— City officials are considering experimenting with limiting outdoor dining in downtown Raleigh to balance the concerns of business owners with residents.

Downtown restaurant owners and workers packed a Tuesday afternoon meeting of the City Council's Law & Public Safety Committee, which has been trying to work out a compromise for months since an ordinance was proposed to restrict sidewalk seating to restaurants and prohibit bar patios.

City officials said they have received 30 complaints since June 1 over crowded sidewalks downtown, trash and late-night noise.

"We're looking to you for relief," resident Will Marks told council members. "We're not asking you to shut businesses down. We're asking you to take the greater good and public health into consideration."

The committee recommended a six-month pilot project that would limit outdoor seating to a percentage of an establishment's indoor capacity and would require all patrons back inside at midnight Sundays through Thursdays and 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Currently, patrons can remain out on restaurant or bar patios until 2 a.m. nightly.

Council members noted that even New York City cuts off sidewalk seating at restaurants and bars at 1 a.m.

But Zack Medford, the owner of Paddy O'Beers on Fayetteville Street, said instituting such limits in downtown Raleigh would hurt his and other businesses.

"It's going to discourage future businesses from opening in downtown Raleigh. It's going to hurt the bottom line on revenue for many, many local businesses," Medford said.

Workers told council members that they feared losing their jobs if the sidewalk dining curfew causes bars and restaurants to cut back on staff.

Deputy Police Chief J.C. Perry asked council members to keep the proposed regulations as simple as possible so it's not too difficult to enforce.

The full City Council still has to sign off on the plan and is expected to take it up next week. If approved, the council would look at extending, dropping or changing the restrictions early next year.