Delray Beach mayor wants outdoor seating expanded on Atlantic Avenue

Cities across South Florida are adapting to restaurants expanding into the street to provide more seating amid the coronavirus.

Last month, Delray Beach's mayor proposed a similar option for Atlantic Avenue.

Even on a rainy day, Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach was busy Monday -- from the early lunch crowd to the non-stop traffic.

The dozens of restaurants along the tourist strip have been forced to get creative with outdoor seating, but the sidewalks are not very wide.

Mayor Shelly Petrolia is proposing the city close Atlantic Avenue during certain hours and days to help increase capacity.

“My thoughts were that we move the tables to the parkettes here, and we keep this open for ADA and people trying to get into restaurants and keep the middle open for walking,” said Petrolia.

It’s an idea that John Brewer, creator of a local Facebook supper club, would love to see.

“West Palm Beach has tried it. Tampa is doing it. Fort Lauderdale is doing it. Boca is doing it, so I think it is something we should take a serious look at,” said Brewer.

Brewer’s club has more than 10,000 members supporting local restaurants.

He said the smaller places have told them they need the outdoor space.

“That could be the difference between them making it and not making it,” said Brewer.

Petrolia said the city has been able to watch how Boca Raton and West Palm Beach have managed crowds with street closures.

She said the city must find a way to help their restaurants keep capacity.

“It is important for us to do what we can in order to help them by expanding some additional space on the outside,” said Petrolia.

The mayor said no decision will be made about closing Atlantic Avenue until the commissioners can have a discussion about it and decide what they want to do. The commission has a meeting in the next two weeks.

Scripps Only Content 2020