Outdoor Dining is Here to Stay!

Expanded Outdoor Dining is Here to Stay in Durham!

On Monday, October 18, 2021, Durham’s City Council voted unanimously to make expanded outdoor dining a permanent feature of our city.

This victory was due in no small part to the emails, phone calls, and requests of so many of our city’s residents. Thank you for all your hard work!

This ordinance will forever change the landscape of our city, and especially our Downtown by expanding how we interact with our public, outdoor spaces. Instead of lines of parked cars, we’ll see friendly faces of people dining, shopping, and enjoying time with their loved ones. Outdoor dining adds vitality and beauty to our city.

Sign our thank you note to City Council.

What’s Next?

While the ordinance paves the way for the expanded outdoor dining to remain, there are still a lot of crucial details that need to be worked out.

Exactly what the program will look like rests with our city employees in the Transportation and Planning departments and requires careful coordination with the Fire Department and Storm Water Management.

The language of the ordinance and the unanimous vote make it clear that City Council’s intent is to preserve the program in its current state with a few reasonable modifications to ensure its longevity.

We hope and trust that the city employees involved will understand this intent and work with us on establishing a robust, beautiful program for expanded outdoor dining.

What is Expanded Outdoor Dining?

Expanded outdoor dining allows restaurants to serve people in previously underutilized public spaces such as parking decks, alleys, streetside parking, and green spaces.

The expanded outdoor dining program has been a lifeline to our city’s independent restaurants during the global pandemic. It’s also been a source of enjoyment and delight for our city’s residents and visitors, offering a safe and pleasurable way to support our local businesses and spend time with loved ones.

Outdoor dining is a beneficial trend that cities all over the world have adopted during the Global Pandemic. Some cities have already recognized the benefits and made this a permanent feature for their residents. But Durham hasn’t yet voted to keep our expanded outdoor dining.

During 2020 and 2021, Luna offered patio dining in the adjacent Black Wall Street Gardens. They have now transitioned to curbside dining.
COPA offers streetside dining in converted parking spaces.

Benefits of Expanded Outdoor Dining

  • The expanded outdoor dining program brings vibrancy to previously underutilized public spaces, such as streetside parking, alleys, parking lots, parking decks, and small pieces of green space.
  • Downtown restaurants are often in historic buildings with small footprints. Narrow city sidewalks limit the space for tables. The expanded outdoor dining program means a larger footprint for Independent Restaurants and more space for you to enjoy dining al fresco.
  • Permanent outdoor dining will create new jobs as restaurants will have to hire additional staff to serve more customers.
  • Outdoor dining is a draw to downtown for residents and visitors alike, creating more foot traffic for all of our independent businesses.
  • Outdoor dining will boost business and income for struggling independent restaurants—this means more tax revenue for our entire city, benefitting all of Durham.
  • Outdoor dining adds curb appeal to otherwise underutilized, vacant, or unsightly spaces.
Mothers and Sons offers streetside dining in converted parking spaces.

Sign our thank you note to City Council