Making It Easier To Offer Outdoor Seating In Watertown

Making It Easier To Offer Outdoor Seating In Watertown

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Right now, to be a business with outdoor seating in downtown Watertown, you have to go through quite a process.  But a local group called Advantage Watertown wants to cut through the red tape so it'll be easier for customers to dine outside.

"It would be an awesome asset for all of the businesses to have outdoor seating," said Eva Pierce, co-owner of Spokes in downtown Watertown.

She isn't alone. The owners of Boots Brewing Company and a another restaurant going in in downtown Watertown also are in favor or outside seating.  Piece says right now, it's not an easy process.

"Sometimes you have to go through so many hurdles and obstacles. You're running a business. You've got day-to-day things you've got to do," she said.

Right now, businesses have to get a license agreement through the city manager's office, showing a seating plan, proof of insurance, and ownership of the building, or show permission from the building's owner.

Vito's Gourmet on Public Square did all those things. Members of Advantage Watertown are hoping to make it easier for more businesses to do the same.

"What we want to do is try and eliminate some of the hurdles that Vito's had to go through to encourage other businesses to come outside," said Watertown City Planner Geoffrey Urda.

One idea is making it so businesses would just have to get a permit, rather than a license agreement. The group is also planning to go over city codes regarding seating downtown.

"Looking at which restrictions we can eliminate or ease in the Public Square setting to make it more streamlined and make it easier for businesses to have outdoor tables," said Urda.

City council would have final approval before any changes are made.

"As far as the permitting process, it would be easier for the businesses. It would actually be very positive for any customers that do come in," said Watertown City Council Member Lisa Ruggiero.

Along with Lisa, three other council members say they're in favor of making the process easier.

Advantage Watertown members say they hope to have a plan later this year and have it go into effect by next summer.

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