City of Manhattan installing outdoor dining platforms in front of seven downtown restaurants

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One platform has already been installed in front of The Chef. The remaining platforms will be installed over the next week. (Photo by Derek Simmons/KMAN)

A few restaurants in downtown Manhattan will soon have new outdoor-seating options.

The City of Manhattan has began installing seating platforms in front of seven downtown restaurants to combat a downturn in customers and foot traffic brought on by the ongoing pandemic.

Platform installations have already occurred at a couple restaurants and will continue until Oct. 20.

Here is a schedule of where and when installations are taking place:

  • The Chef – Oct. 12
  • five – Oct. 13
  • Bourbon and Baker – Oct. 14
  • Tallgrass Tap House – Oct. 15
  • Manhattan Brewing Company – Oct. 16
  • El Patron – Oct. 19
  • Finn’s Pub – Oct. 20

According to Gina Scroggs, Downtown Manhattan executive director, restaurants are one of the largest drivers of foot traffic in the downtown area. By installing the platforms, officials hope to increase seating and consumer confidence among these businesses.

“That in turn generates revenue,” Scroggs said. “We also hope that those people that are visiting our restaurants will then shop downtown.”

This initiative will coincide with open-air-market permits that were approved in April to allow businesses to sell their products in front of their stores.

“So long as their not blocking the sidewalks and are compliant with ADA federal guidelines, we hope that our retailers will bring their racks and maybe some tables out onto the sidewalk so that we have sort of this whole open-air economy going on downtown,” Scroggs said.

The platforms will lay directly in front each restaurant in the part of the street where parking spots would typically be and will not interfere with sidewalks and pedestrian walkways.

A total of about 35 parking spots will be occupied by the platforms, but Scroggs says over 3,000 parking spots will remain available in the downtown area.

“There will be some places that you can park on Poyntz Avenue, but we ask that you look at those side streets and those public parking lots,” Scroggs said. “And then of course the mall has a good majority. We also have our parking garage just two blocks down the street.”

To educate the public about parking options, Downtown Manhattan will be conducting a parking-education and walkability campaign via social media over the next 30 days.

The City of Manhattan has also put up four 15-minute loading zones in the 300 and 400 blocks of Poyntz Ave., with two on the north side and two on the south side. These loading zones are meant for those needing to quickly park and pick up products from downtown businesses.

A delay in building materials for the platforms has caused the city to put up temporary railings along the platforms that have already been installed. Scroggs says the railings are legal and in compliance with ADA and state regulations.

Delays in the delivery of materials have already caused hold-ups in the installation of the platforms, which could lead to a short-lived span of time before they have to be taken down during winter-weather months.

“Snow removal is a pretty big indicator of when the platforms will have to be taken down,” Scroggs said. “They’ll be stored on city property and then, just as soon as weather permits in the spring, they will be brought back out for patrons to use.”

The platforms are costing the city just under $250,000 in materials. Labor and some design costs are being donated by various businesses.

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