Outdoor dining gets big tick from hospo

By David Schout

Four in five hospitality traders within the City of Melbourne said the emergence of outdoor dining has helped them reopen post-lockdown.

And the positive feedback is likely to see the initiative extended.

In a survey of 150 cafe, restaurant and bar owners in December and January, 81 per cent gave outdoor dining “parklets” the thumbs-up since reopening in late October.

Temporary extended outdoor dining permits have allowed hospitality venues to expand operations onto footpaths, on-street parking, laneways and street space to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

Of those surveyed, 72 per cent were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their outdoor dining arrangements.

“Delivering the extended outdoor dining program has helped to support hospitality businesses and create jobs after Melbourne emerged from lockdown,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.

“In just a few months, we received 10 years’ worth of applications for outdoor dining permits compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. Our team assessed applications quickly and issued nearly 1500 permits for outdoor dining across the municipality.”

Due to the success of the initiative, the council will consider extending the program until the end of May at a February 23 council meeting.

“The extended outdoor dining program has helped to bring back the buzz to Melbourne and we are doing a review to determine how we can support hospitality businesses into the future,” Cr Capp said.

The program is part of the $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund, a joint initiative between the council and state government •

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