COLORADO SPRINGS — With warmer months ahead of us, outdoor dining is becoming a popular choice for customers wanting to support local restaurants. If you've driven in downtown Colorado Springs, you've likely seen the parklets on Tejon St. that take up the a block outside of restaurants. But how long will they remain an option for some local businesses?
In order to get the parklets built, restaurants worked closely with the city to get temporary permits. Those permits expire 30 days after indoor dining restrictions are lifted. With the dial going away tomorrow, the city is still working on when that day is.
Volunteers and local organizations helped build them in December, however local restaurant employees that News5 spoke to hope they stay up for a while.
"Some folks really enjoy being outdoors for the sake of being outdoors. Other folks aren't quite comfortable coming back into indoor dining just yet," said Johnathan Shankland, the general manager at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar. "The parklet gives us back six tables, which is nice. It helps us get back closer to 100%. We're getting good support from the community when it comes to outdoor dining and have had people enjoy dinner in 30 or 40 degree weather."
Next door at Colorado Craft, the parklets have added eight more tables for customers. It's also helped business ahead of warmer days.
"Any time that nice days are coming around, we've been filling them up and a lot of people have been sitting outside," said Jenni Najar, the assistant general manager at Colorado Craft. "We get so much sunshine. I would like to see people to take advantage of outdoor seating year round."
While the parklets on Tejon are temporary, just around the corner, Brother Luck and the community recently built a permanent outdoor patio at Lucky Dumpling. As customers are still hesitant to eat a meal indoors, this is giving them another option and also helps bring in more business.
"The community showed up. They showed up, they delivered, they supported us," said Luck, the chef owner of Lucky Dumpling and Four by Brother Luck. "I'm really excited to look at the future of outdoor dining. Now, we're talking about what events can we do outside, how can we cook outside, how can we entertain outside? Can we offer live music and live artists out there in addition to serving great food and drinks?"
About 25 volunteers in the community helped build the new patio at Lucky Dumpling, which goes to show, the community's support for outdoor dining being a way of the future.
"It's awesome. It gives people a chance to experience the outdoors," said Christopher Madison, a volunteer who helped paint and build the patio. "You can enjoy your food and look and experience the great weather, and I wanted to be a part of something that helps other people out."
"I definitely think the way of the future is going to be eating in domes and eating in tee pee's and eating in every type of hut you can imagine," said Luck. "So don't be afraid to eat in a fish bowl."