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Huber restaurants can use sidewalk, parking lot as outdoor space

MARK FISHER/STAFF
MARK FISHER/STAFF

Restaurants in Huber Heights will now be able to use extra outdoor space, like their parking lots or sidewalk, when they reopen on Friday.

Huber Heights City Council passed legislation that will allow restaurants to safely use additional outdoor space that would normally be against city codes. Businesses have an “automatic green-light” to use the extra outdoor space as they see fit.

Huber Heights City Manager Rob Schommer said this is the city’s attempt to provide more allowances for businesses, but stay within the state’s Responsible Restart restrictions laid out by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Health Director Amy Acton.

Examples of this would be allowing restaurants to use space in their parking lot, on the sidewalk in front of their business or additional patio space that ordinarily would be against city code. The city has also been very lenient on signs that normally would violate code if they’re explaining how to carry out or pick-up from restaurants.

“This will allow these businesses to stretch out a little bit,” Schommer said.

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Schommer said this might allow some restaurants to reopen safely that couldn’t have before.

“We want our restaurants to open up as strongly as they can,” Schommer said. “If, among all the other things that have been thrown your way, outdoor space is keeping you from opening your business, we want to take that barrier away.”

Now that the legislation has been passed, Schommer said the city and the Huber Heights Chamber of Commerce will work to inform restaurants that they have this temporary waiver of city code.

The Heights Cafe on Chambersburg Road has been looking into bringing trays to serve people in their cars in the parking lot, a manager said. The possibility for outdoor seating, however, would be something the restaurant would strongly consider, she said, since their indoor space is limited.

Patty Routzahn, manager at TJ Chumps located on Executive Boulevard, said their existing patio has about 25 tables, but the restaurant is excited about the possibility of expanding on that number.

“Any kind of support we can get right now is great,” Routzahn said. “We are really looking forward to opening on Friday and I’ve gotten calls from some of our regulars who I know are excited to come in, too.”

Schommer said he is not aware of other communities doing this, but hopes nearby cities will also do this to help their local businesses.