Thursday, October 1, 2020

Outdoor Dining Around Square Could Start Next Week

By Alyssa Schnugg
News editor
alyssa.schnugg@hottytoddy.com

There will soon be a slew of outdoor dining options around the downtown Square.

On Tuesday, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved a resolution allowing the city to execute revokable licenses to allow restaurants in the downtown area to use parking spaces to create outdoor dining areas.

Restaurants need to lease the spaces since the city cannot legally donate the spaces. The term for each lease is three months.

The resolution states that each restaurant that signs up for the outdoor dining spaces will pay an initial fee of $489 for the first month which includes a one-time, non-refundable fee in the amount of $104 for the cost of an appraisal, and then $385 for the following two months.

However, FNB donated $3,000 to the city to be used to help restaurants defer some of the cost of their rent.

“That donation will be divided up equally between the restaurants to come off their first month’s rent,” said Mayor Robyn Tannehill, adding that she hopes others will also donate to help out the restaurants.

After Tuesday’s approval, restaurants now have to send their floor plans for the outdoor dining areas to the Alcohol Beverage Control department for approval. Once ABC receives the plans, Tannehill said restaurants should be able to start setting up their tables and chairs next week.

Restaurants that will be offering the outdoor dining so far include The Annex, Tangos, St. Leo, St. Leo Lounge, Round Table, Rafters, McEwens, Funky’s, Julep Steakhouse and City Grocery.

The Board discussed whether or not to add verbiage in the resolution that if a restaurant gets a second violation of city alcohol or COVID-19 mandates that the license for the outdoor dining could be revoked.

“I believe 90% of our businesses are doing the right thing,” Tannehill said. “But for those who choose not to, I don’t think they should have the privilege (of offering outdoor dining).”

However, City Attorney Pope Mallette pointed out that the license agreements already state that the licenses are revocable and can be revoked, “at-will” of city officials and that the added language wasn’t necessary.