May 15—Outdoor dining will return to First Avenue in Jamestown over the next weeks, said owners of two establishments in that area.
"Absolutely," said Jim Boyd, managing partner of Sabir's Buffalo Grill. "We did it last year but it was makeshift because we got going late in the season."
The Jamestown City Council temporarily approved outdoor dining on city public right of way last year as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. The extra outdoor tables and seating allowed the restaurants more capacity while still meeting social distancing requirements.
This year, the City Council made it permanent. Two ordinances, one to allow the outdoor seating on the public right of way and one to allow alcohol to be sold and possessed in that outdoor seating, received a second reading and passed unanimously during a special City Council meeting Tuesday, May 11. The council also approved an application process for restaurants and bars wanting to implement outdoor seating.
"We hope to," said Jon Beyer, owner of Jonny B's Brickhouse. "We will be putting in an application."
Beyer said they were able to add three outdoor tables that provided an outdoor dining experience and increased seating during the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the outdoor seating will serve the same two purposes.
"It is a little bit of both," Beyer said. "It helps us spread the tables but allowing people to dine outside is the main reason."
Boyd said additional spacing around tables is still the rule in most restaurants.
"There are still people adverse to crowds," he said.
The permit process is in place although Sarah Hellekson, city administrator, said the city hasn't received any applications yet.
Boyd said Sabir's Buffalo Grill will require a city permit for the north side of the building adjacent to First Street South. It will also require a permit from the North Dakota Department of Transportation for the west side of the building that is adjacent to First Avenue South which is also U.S. Highway 281 and part of the federal highway system.
"Could be in place next week or the week after for First Street," he said. "Another week or two for First Avenue."
Boyd said this year, Sabir's Buffalo Grill is improving its outdoor dining presentation with a new permanently mounted fence around the seating area.
"Usage was slow last year but the pandemic had a lot to do with that," he said. "People were just hesitant to go out."
Beyer said the outdoor seating is a good way to show off downtown Jamestown.
"The traffic doesn't bother and with the lane (road) diet, we'll see less traffic," he said. "It is nice when people can sit outside."