Syracuse, N.Y. — Despite cooler temperatures, dining out on the street continues this weekend in parts of Armory Square.
It will happen on Walton Street and in “parklets,” which are carved out dining spots along the curb in front of three businesses near but not on Walton. Those on-street dining options supplement the patios and courtyards that many restaurants use to expand their seating capacity.
The city is closing both the 100 and 200 blocks of Walton Street to traffic and parking and opening the curbsides to outdoor seating Friday and Saturday. The 100 block will also be closed to traffic and open to dining on Sunday.
That will continue through the end of October, said Jen Tifft, the city’s deputy director for Neighborhood and Business Development.
This is the second week the city has curtailed the dining-on-the-street option in the 200 block for Sunday only. The office of Mayor Ben Walsh first announced that change ahead of last weekend.
That decision came after city officials determined that just one restaurant in the 200 block, Margarita’s Mexican Cantina, is regularly open on Sunday, but several other non-restaurant retailers and businesses are too, Tifft said. There’s also an issue of access to parking for apartments in the 200 block, she said.
“We just want to make sure we’re being fair and equitable for everyone,” she said.
Last month, James Horan, who owns the Vagabond Clothing retail shop in the 200 block, complained that the street closing and loss of parking spaces was hurting his business. He recommended that the city open Walton at least on Sundays.
Restaurants that have been taking advantage of the curbside table service are The Limerick Pub, The Blue Tusk and The Hops Spot in the 100 block of Walton between South Clinton and South Franklin, and Pita Dream, Margarita’s Mexican Cantina, Kasai Ramen and Sakana-Ya, all in the 200 block between South Franklin and Onondaga Creek.
All the cross streets remain open to traffic.
The goal is to help restaurants expand their seating while dealing with coronavirus restrictions that limit customers to no more than 50% of normal capacity.
The city first closed Walton to traffic and opened its curbsides to outdoor seating in mid-July. It has now officially extended it through October, matching the city’s long-standing sidewalk seating program which typically lasts through Oct. 31.
Meanwhile, there are now three restaurants that have installed “parklets,” which are temporary mobile platforms adorned with barriers, greenery, lights etc. that can also accommodate outdoor tables.
They are in front of Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub and Pastabilities restaurant in the 300 block of South Franklin Street, and in front of Funk ‘n Waffles in the 300 block of South Clinton Street. A fourth is under construction for installation in front of Three Lives, a new bar/restaurant that recently opened in the 300 block of South Clinton Street.
Michael John Heagerty, who coordinates the parklet program and consults with the city on the Walton Street closing, said several restaurants have also been working on plans to add heaters and in some cases tents to their outdoor seating options as the weather turns colder.
Kyle Mastropietro, owner of Kasai Ramen in the 200 block of Walton, said he has been “brainstorming” with city officials about the use of tents and heaters to extend the outdoor seating season.
“We’d definitely like to find what works best to keep the outdoor option going as long as we can,” Mastropietro said.
The city is also working on ideas for extending outdoor winter dining, Tifft said.
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