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Central Texas Local News | kcentv.com

Temple approves program allowing some businesses to expand dining outdoors

The Temple City Council approved the pilot program Thursday night.

TEMPLE, Texas — Restaurants and bars have had been a focus for many after being one of the hardest hit industries by COVID-19.

"It's gotten easier as time's gone by it was a challenge at first," Cheeves Bros. Steakhouse Owner and General Manager Joe Wilson said. 

On Thursday night, the Temple City Council approved a new pilot program for restaurants and bars in the Central Area Zoning District. According to Temple Mayor Tim Davis said it is basically the downtown area with a few additional blocks. 

The program allows those in the area to use private parking, on-street parking, and sidewalks to expand their outdoor dining. Documents from the city council agenda packet said "the COVID-19 pandemic is causing unparalleled economic damage to Temple’s local small business community."

"Our hope is to be able to help those restaurants to expand their capacity," Davis said. 

The documents said, "This improved access will allow these businesses to open at greater capacity and operate safely with adequate social distancing measures to protect customers."

Overall, Wilson said it would be something they would look into, but it probably not work out at Cheeves Bros. He said right now they do not have much space out front and that they might look into having seating areas in the parking area.

"How close cars come to the actual, you know, tables if we had to set it out there," Wilson said. "You have a lot of different factors, weather of course."

Pignetti's owner Clinton Harwell said they might not really need to use it, mentioning the spaces they currently have, but said it is important to have as an option for all Temple restaurants. 

According to the documents, others businesses could be included.

"As the pilot program moves forward, the City Manager may consider expanding the zoning districts and the types of businesses that may participate in the pilot program and provide any recommendation of expansion of this program to City Council," documents said.