LINO LAKES — To assist local eateries and bars amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the City Council has passed a resolution that temporarily alters its requirements related to outdoor dining/service and consumption of on-sale alcoholic beverages.
Under direction of Gov. Tim Walz, eateries and bars are now able to provide outdoor sit-down service to customers effective June 1. Community Development Director Michael Grochala explained that there are about 19 businesses in town that may wish to do just that.
“Some of those businesses either don’t have the lot or the ability to expand consistent with our existing ordinances and may have to rely on the use of a sidewalk or even portions of their parking lot to accommodate outdoor dining,” he said. “In an effort to provide some expediency to the permit process and some flexibility in those requirements to assist businesses in this time, we are recommending some changes to ordinance that we think will help facilitate the permitting process.”
The council approved a resolution May 26 that establishes an interim administrative approval process and waives some requirements per the city code.
Restaurants and bars are allowed to reopen for outdoor service provided they:
• Have adopted and implemented a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
• Ensure a minimum of 6 feet of distance between tables
• Limit on-premise capacity to no more than 50 persons
• Limit table service to four persons, or six, if part of one family unit
• Require reservations in advance
• Require workers to wear masks and strongly encourage masks be worn by customers
• Establish regular disinfection routine and train workers
One of the main changes, Grochala said, will be that the city will temporarily allow the use of parking areas and or sidewalks for outdoor service. He said the city will also consider allowing the use of canopies or tents, which normally are not allowed unless a special event permit is granted.
Some other temporary measures include:
• Allowing for the amendment of the liquor license description of premise, within which liquor may be dispensed and consumed, by administrative approval provided it meets all other licensing requirements.
• Waiving off-street parking requirements for outdoor dining and seating, provided the outdoor seating capacity is equal to or less than the existing interior seating capacity of the restaurant.
• Waiving the administrative permit fee for accessory outdoor dining facilities.
Trappers Bar and Grill is one of the businesses who is already working with the city to come up with a plan on how it can serve more customers.
Manager Elizabeth Jabs said is appreciative of how fast the council and city staff sprang into action to help businesses. “I reached out to Councilman Dale Stoesz on a Friday and they acted on it at their meeting on Tuesday,” she said. “Dale was super responsive and sent us a couple ideas of what businesses in other cities are doing and gave me contacts at the city.”
Although all the details had not been finalized as of press deadline, Trappers plans to have outdoor seating in a portion of its parking lot. The space will be protected by a tent of some sort in the event of inclement weather.
Jabs said they have appreciated the community’s support in the form of carry-out and to-go orders, but the business is really hoping the new arrangements will allow them to bring back more of its employees.
“We need to keep the business afloat and running ... Our foundation is community. We are so community-driven and a lot of people find comfort in having some stability in their life, whether that is just eating breakfast.” Customers should expect to find some new items on the menu to try out, too.
The temporary measures will terminate when the governor permits bars and eateries to reopen for indoor service or the declaration of a state of emergency ends. Grochala said that if indoor service is limited to less than full capacity, establishments may request to continue operating under the temporary measures.
Lead Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.