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Kingston’s cafes and restaurants embrace outdoor dining

31 October 2020

Kingston hospitality businesses have rushed to take up outdoor dining options offered by Council including free Outdoor Dining and Footpath Trading permits and dining pop-up licences.

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, local cafés and restaurants were able to welcome back dining customers from Wednesday and shopping strips are buzzing again thanks to new alfresco dining options.

City of Kingston CEO Julie Reid said Council has been working with businesses to find practical ways to assist them to expand their outdoor dining options, while still ensuring they are COVIDSafe. 

“We wanted local traders to be able to welcome customers back to their cafes and restaurants as soon as possible and allow them to cater for more customers where they can, in a safe way,” Ms Reid said.

Traders can apply for free Outdoor Dining and Footpath Trading permits and dining pop-up licences, where these activities can be safely established.

Kingston businesses have several options to establish outdoor dining areas for the temporary service of food and drinks outdoors:

  • Footpath Trading – using part of the footpath directly in front of their business
  • Expanded Footpath Trading – expanding their footpath trading zone to include the front of an adjacent business’ premises
  • Adjacent Kerbside Carpark Trading (Parklet) – expanding dining into an appropriate kerbside carpark at the front of the business or a neighbouring business
  • Outdoor Dining Pop Up – creating a temporary outdoor dining pop up on Council land
  • Expanded Outdoor Dining – expanding trading into outdoor areas located within the title boundary (e.g. staff carpark).

Council’s streamlined process for hospitality businesses seeking to expand footpath dining has already seen 23 permits approved and we have started the temporary removal of some street furniture such as bike racks and benches to create more space for local traders to welcome customers. Although this will not always be possible we are trying to assist where we can.

Council had already fast-tracked a number of planning permit amendments for Kingston businesses wanting to expand outdoor dining into different areas of their property, before the State Government announced its temporary amendments and permit exemptions from 21 October.

Scott and Debbie Horton have owned and run Nachos Cantina in Aspendale for 32 years. Qualified chefs Scott and Debbie are preparing to transform the area at the front of their business into an exciting outdoor dining space with barriers and umbrellas.

While they’ve been able to stay open for takeaway, utilising the footpath area at the front of a neighbouring business and having bike racks relocated, they are now able to create a 1.7m x 12m outdoor dining space which will seat 10 patrons initially and then 20 once restrictions ease further.

“It’s a small step but we can’t wait to reopen for dining and get back to doing what we love, offering quality Tex Mex food, frozen margaritas and great service to our customers,” said Mr Horton.

“We’ve also been working on a contactless menu experience to make dining safer and more efficient.”

Owners of brewing company Wolf and the Willows Scott and Renae McKinnon, took early planning advice and have decided to create an expanded outdoor dining area around their business which will be able to open with 50 people and increase to 100.

Scott and Renae are installing outdoor furniture and picnic tables, which have been made by a neighbouring business, All Purpose Fabrication, which normally fabricates steel for construction. They’ve decided to hold off opening until 12 November, to allow sufficient time for planning and recruiting staff again.

“We knew restrictions would ease earlier but we want to be fully prepared. We currently have seven permanent staff but by mid-November we’re going to need closer to 20, and that takes time,” said Mr McKinnon.

“We’re really excited to open and glad we could source locally-made furniture as well - this isn’t what All Purpose Fabrication normally do, but 2020 has made us all realise the importance of supporting business locally, so we reached out. We could kick a football to their factory, so in terms of supporting local manufacturing and decreasing your carbon footprint this ticks so many boxes.

“We will be able to open with 50 people out the front and it’ll be a family-friendly atmosphere. Once restrictions ease further, we’ll be able to open with 100 out the front.”

“One of the ways Council is helping businesses offer outdoor dining options to their customers is through dining pop ups on Council-owned land,” said Ms Reid. “Cafes and restaurants can apply to establish a temporary outdoor dining pop up in an area external to their business.”

To support local business recovery, Council has waived the fees for all Outdoor Dining Licences and Footpath Trading Permits until 31 July 2021. 

“We know this year has been really tough for many of our small and large businesses across Kingston and we are committed to finding ways to help them bounce back after this crisis,” Ms Reid said.

For more information about how Council can help your business offer outdoor dining visit kingston.vic.gov.au/outdoordining.

 

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