Atlanta City Council passes 'on-street' dining ordinance

Atlanta restaurants now have another option to keep people safe while eating out. Atlanta City Council passed an ordinance on Monday to allow restaurants to offer on-street dining.

The move gives restaurants more space and makes it easier to social distance.

"I believe probably about a quarter of the restaurants in this city have shut down already," said Richard Tang, Owner of Char Korean Bar & Grill. "A lot of prominent restaurants that have been here for decades are now closed."

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Tang knows just how hard it is to make ends meet during the pandemic.

"I had to change my air filtration system in the restaurant which cost me about $10,000," said Tang.

The cost of the pandemic has been felt across every industry. Restaurants in particular feel the strain.

"What's really different about this time right now is December is normally a month where restaurants do very, very well," said Karen Bremer, CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

Atlanta City Council unanimously agreed this week to allow restaurants to get a permit for on-street dining. The idea is to expand outdoor seating while still maintaining social distancing. Tang agreed, it's a good move, but he said it's long overdue.

"Completely way overdue," said Tang, "Some cities have been doing this since the middle of the summer."

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On-street dining would be allowed during certain times on Thursday through Sunday. Restaurants also must get a permit before they can make any changes.

"The patio business, the outdoor business has really been the savior to many restaurants here in the metro area," said Bremer.

Meanwhile, a federal relief package is still in the works. According to a survey from Georgia's Restaurant Association, nearly 40% of Georgia restaurant owners don't expect their business to survive another six months without help from the Federal government.

"If the government doesn't come through with some help this week, it's a really, really dire situation," said Bremer.

Restaurants also must submit a site plan for on-street dining plans before the permit is approved. The temporary permit will be good until the end of 2021.

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