The City of Shakopee has cleared the way to allow restaurants and other businesses to serve customers outside, even if they don't already have an established patio.
City Administrator Bill Reynolds, after consultation with the Shakopee City Council, issued an administrative order on May 20 to allow businesses to use their parking lots and green spaces to serve their customers, a news release says.
This order comes the same week Gov. Tim Walz announced a phased-in plan to reopen restaurants and bars. The plan allows them to reopen June 1 for outdoor seating with a max of 50 people at once, with no more than four people allowed at a table unless it's a family, in which case up to six people can be together.
The plan has been criticized because some restaurants don't have outdoor space to serve customers, among other reasons.
But Shakopee's order should help restaurants that don't already have outdoor seating. The order says restaurants will be allowed to use public parking spaces after June 1, so long as it's coordinated with the city Public Works Department.
And if an establishment plans to serve liquor in one of these temporary areas, it must modify its liquor license, the order notes.
"City staff are all aware of the enormous pressure our small businesses are under. My team worked quickly across several departments to put together a proposal that would give our small business community more options for using public green space to serve their customers," Jenn Brewington, Shakopee's Economic Development Specialist, told BMTN. "Our plan is not a one size fits all type of approach, and we are working to be flexible and creative with our businesses as requests come in.
"We know that having plan in place will help us to expedite the process once businesses are ready to participate," Brewington added.
This order does not just aim to benefit restaurants, but all businesses located in commercial or industrial areas. These businesses can provide drive-up or drive-thru areas, customer ordering, waiting or pickup areas or customer seating in order to maintain safe activity within federal and state health guidelines, the order says.
Businesses that take advantage of this should have traffic management plans prepared and provide on-site traffic control, the order notes. And customer waiting and service areas cannot impede sidewalks or block accessible ramps and parking spaces.
This administrative order is in effect until it is repealed by city administrator order or by City Council action, the release says.