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Private Citizens, Businesses Pitch in For Outdoor Dining

Thanks to the generosity of local citizens and businesses, restaurants participating in outdoor dining won’t have to pay their first month’s rent of the parking spaces that are being utilized for outdoor dining seating.

The city of Oxford cannot donate the space since it is public property. By state law, the city had to have two appraisals done on the parking spaces and then take the average cost of each one and then charge the restaurants that amount. Most restaurants would have had to pay about $388 a month and a one time charge of $150 in the first month for costs associated with creating the outdoor dining spaces.

Last week, FNB donated $3,000. On Tuesday, Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill announced the city has received a total of $10,100 in donations that will cover the first month of rent.

For restaurants only using the outdoor dining areas three days a week, their second month is also covered. Restaurants using the spaces for the entire week will only pay $170. Any additional donations will help cover the rent for the third month.

Last week, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved a resolution allowing the city to execute revocable licenses to allow restaurants in the downtown area to use parking spaces to create outdoor dining areas for three months.

The additional donations were $1,000 from Zach and Amy Scruggs; $5,000 from Diane Scruggs; $100 from Steven and Marianne Parks; and $1,000 from Lowery and Marla Lomax.

“We appreciate these very generous donors who have stepped up to the plate to help our restaurants,” said Tannehill Tuesday during a special called meeting to approve the donations.

Also on Tuesday, the Board approved the revocable licenses for five other restaurants who decided to utilize the outdoor dining since last week. They include The Grillehouse, The Library Sports Bar and Grill, Proud Larry’s, Blind Pig and SoLa. City Grocery and Square Pizza have decided not to use the outdoor dining at this time.

Other restaurants that will have outdoor dining are The Annex, Tangos, St. Leo, St. Leo Lounge, Round Table, Rafters, McEwens, Funky’s and Julep Steakhouse.

Tannehill said she appreciates the patience of other businesses around the Square.

“We know it’s an inconvenience to some of our other businesses,” she said. “But we know by bringing in extra people to dine means having extra people walking around and going into our shops.”

Restaurants who are cited for violating the city’s COVID-19 safety regulations repeatedly could have their licenses revoked.

“We expect these restaurants to follow our safety guidelines,” Tannehill said.

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