Taking Outdoor Dining to the Streets

Streateries helped restaurants survive the pandemic and gave diners a new experience. And they’re here to stay.
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Photograph by Catie Viox

Last summer, when restaurants were struggling to fill seats because of the pandemic, the City of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) swooped in to help eateries and landlords provide temporary outdoor seating in downtown and Over-the-Rhine.

Photograph by Catie Viox

“We heard from those businesses that it was hugely important to them in terms of capacity, and we felt it added an extra level of vibrancy to the street,” Joe Rudemiller, 3CDC’s vice president of marketing and communications, told us back in the spring. “Having people walking around—it added some liveliness during a difficult year.” With a $2.2 million budget contribution and additional grant funding, city officials were able to make the changes necessary to add permanent outdoor dining to the landscape in the form of “streateries.”

Photograph by Catie Viox

Through a mixture of parklets (which enhanced the restaurants’ curb appeal with wooden barriers, railings, and planters), sidewalk bump-outs (like those at City Bird, The Eagle, and Quan Hapa), and partial street closures, the project provided additional outdoor seating for customers who were sick of takeout and wanted to get back some semblance of normalcy. The first phase of the project had created patios for 70 businesses throughout downtown and Over-the-Rhine by May.

Photograph by Catie Viox

While it has its detractors—particularly those who say that it takes away parking for residents, service workers, and other business owners in a neighborhood that is already struggling with parking limitations—overall, the project has been seen as a success. And we’ll likely see more streateries popping up in the future: City council has approved funding for more of them and 3CDC has vetted its next round of applicants.

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