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Clarion Borough Council Considering Sidewalk Seating for Downtown Restaurants

Wednesday, June 3, 2020 @ 12:06 AM

Posted by Aly Delp

Downtown Clarion Estadt's sidewalkCLARION BOROUGH, Pa. (EYT) – Offering sidewalk seating for downtown Clarion restaurants was a topic at Tuesday evening’s borough meeting.

The issue was brought to the attention of the council at Tuesday evening’s teleconference meeting by Jim Crooks, owner of F.L. Crooks & Co., and Bryan Smith, co-owner of Clarion River Brewing Company.

Crooks noted that the COVID-19 Pandemic and subsequent mandated closures hit many area businesses hard, and while the green phase has allowed businesses to reopen and restaurants to begin utilizing their dining rooms, restaurants are still required to seat customers at a limited capacity.

“This would be a pro-active way of helping these businesses since they can only seat at 50 percent of their normal capacity inside,” Crooks said.

“Restaurants have a huge impact on the number of people that come downtown, and frankly, I think it would also look awesome.”

Crooks noted that he has visited many other areas that allow for such seating, and Clarion Borough already has an advantage, as the borough has wider sidewalks than many other municipalities.

Smith said the move could be “vital” for local restaurants who are dealing with limitations on the business they can do because of the reduced capacity limits.

“I would also like to say I would like to make this permanent,” Smith said.

“I feel like it would make downtown feel more vibrant. Seeing people sitting outside enjoying themselves that way would do nothing but enhance things. And, I’m sure the people that are going to do this will do it responsibly.”

Clarion Borough treasurer Todd Colosimo noted that borough ordinances do allow for restaurants to utilize up to six feet from their building for outdoor tables on the sidewalk with some caveats. Each restaurant must request the permission of the borough council individually, and all tables and chairs must be brought inside at night for safety reasons.

The question of serving alcohol at such tables was also discussed.

Smith noted he discussed the issue with a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) officer who said alcohol at such tables would be permitted with the approval of the local municipality.

Chief William Peck, of the Clarion Borough Police Department, was asked to weigh in and stated he wouldn’t have an issue with alcohol at sidewalk tables if it met the approval of the borough and the PLCB and remained compliant with all associated regulations.

After some further discussion, the council decided the issue would be further addressed at a Housing and Zoning committee meeting, and any restaurants that wish to submit requests for permission would then have time to do so before the next full council meeting on June 16. The council members requested that any restaurants that submit requests include in the request what hours of service they would like to utilize the outdoor tables.

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