Wildfire smoke, rain another hurdle for Portland restaurants

Coronavirus

Outdoor permits for Portland restaurants expire November 1

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — While the rain is good for slowing the growth of wildfires, it’s also slowing down restaurant business in Portland after many moved to outside service during the pandemic.

More than 700 free permits were given by the city to restaurants allowing them to set up tables on sidewalks, parking spaces and in the streets with special plazas. But when the wildfire smoke rolled in recently, much of the outdoor dining was extinguished.

Diners enjoy outdoor seating at a Portland restaurant during the pandemic, September 24, 2020 (KOIN)

Now the rain has arrived. That’s a challenge since restaurants can’t put up permanent outdoor structures on city property.

Some restaurants are using their own parking lots and business space to set up more sturdy covered areas with heaters to keep diners coming this fall and winter. They’re also working on ways to expand their to-go business.

Other restaurants have re-opened with indoor dining. But the table-spacing regulations mean restaurants have nowhere near the number of customers they need to stay afloat.

And there’s one more roadblock: The outdoor permits are due to expire November 1. City officials are working on details as that deadline approaches and may extend it. But there are things to consider, said PBOT’s John Brady. For instance, if a restaurant puts up a tent that could affect sightlines for drivers in the area.

A decision will be made relatively soon.

Diners sit outside along NW 23rd Avenue in Portland, Ore., July 29, 2020. (KOIN)

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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