City of Key West – Let Our Restaurants Take the Streets!

Photo Credit KONK Life

By Chris Hamilton, May 6, 2020

With indoor seating for restaurants limited to 25% of capacity, it is time to let our struggling local restaurants take to the sidewalks and streets for customer seating. A 50 seat restaurant is now limited to 13 seats indoors. Who can survive on that? We have a huge public asset in the form of streets that we can use to help during these “strange and unusual times.”

According to the Governor’s guidelines there is no limit on outdoor seating as long as you follow the distancing rules of tables being six feet apart. Outdoor seating will allow restaurants to perhaps get a portion of their capacity back. Let the restaurants use the sidewalks and streets, FREE OF CHARGE, WITH NO PERMITS, to put out tables. While we’re at it, if retailers want to put some displays in the streets, let them. Close portions of Duval Street and the adjacent 400 and 500 blocks that have restaurants, like on Greene, Caroline, Eaton, Fleming, Southard, Petronia and perhaps more.

The Mayor and City Manager should just do this administratively. Now, as restaurants are starting to reopen.

We don’t need wasteful car storage for the privileged few to take precedence over the community’s needs. Ban cars on Duval and these blocks from 4 pm to midnight. Or limit the car-traffic to 5 MPH and one side of the street. Dare we say bring back the Mall on Duval or Duval Street Promenade?

Example of a parklet.

While we are doing this we can use the summer to plan for these same blocks to take over parking areas using parklets, so that by the fall there’s procedures for doing so.

In laying down a fee on visitors using the Duval Loop last night the Mayor reasoned “We’re in some very strange and unusual times right now. We’re going to have to make some unprecedented decisions,”  So let’s do just that and get this done now please.

NOTE THIS WAS ADDED A DAY AFTER WE POSTED THE STORY on a Hat Tip from Kathy Sage. “Restaurant owners say a new program in Tampa, allowing them to set up tables on city streets, will help them recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn.”
This is a Facebook post from friend Niall Geoghegan on Wednesday evening. We include it because it takes the idea to a whole other level and really make it “Key West Fun.”
Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives car-free downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

1 Comments on “City of Key West – Let Our Restaurants Take the Streets!”

  1. I would love to see Duval St. Cut off from car , truck or any motorized. Vehicle.
    A definite improvement be to have outdoor dining, and benches along the sidewalks for socializing; bring back the old natural socializing Key West was known for like back in the 50’s and 60’s.
    Let’s connect with our Conch Heritage.

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