LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Business owners in Northeast Ohio are looking to expand their reach as the service industry struggles to survive during the pandemic.
“The CDC was recommending cities to prioritize outdoor dining whenever possible,” Lakewood Ward Two Councilman Jason Shachner said.
Restaurateurs in Lakewood are hoping to give new meaning to the term “curbside service.”
“I know that a lot of people feel much more comfortable sitting outside because of the CDC guidelines and stuff like that,” Eric Ho said.
Ho owns L.B.M on Madison Avenue and is the first business owner to submit an application for a parklet to the City of Lakewood.
“Parklets essentially allow sidewalks to be extended,” Shachner said. “So you’re extending seating out into what is typically you’re metered parking areas.”
Shachner said the opportunity to serve customers on makeshift patios may save some businesses trying to stay afloat.
“Since last week the city is ready to start accepting applications for businesses and restaurants if they want to add a parklet to their storefront,” Shachner said.
However, he said not all restaurants and bars will be approved for parklets by the city.
“Not all restaurants or businesses, it’s not gonna work for everybody,” Shachner said. “Some areas are too narrow. Some areas don’t have enough parking spaces. Some areas are near buses.”
All approved businesses will be required to install multiple barricades to protect customers and staff from traffic.
“And we’re evaluating each and every space, so if there’s some blind spots there, it’s less likely that it’s going to be approved for that area,” Shachner said. “Or if it’s an extremely busy intersection, it’s less likely to have a parklet approved.”
Ho hopes the extended patio areas become a permanent fixture in Lakewood.
“All these buildings are like 100 years old roughly and so is how the streetscape kind of is,” Ho said. “So this is like a modern solution to that.”
Ho’s request for a parklet could be approved by the City of Lakewood as early as Monday.
“It’s a matter of getting those barricades and having them shipped here,” Ho said. “And then we like to make our furniture, so we have to make the patio tables.”
From there, the business will need approval from its insurance company and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.