Town offers restaurants a lifeline, with outdoor dining
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Restaurants in Miami Lakes that are struggling with restrictions on the number of patrons to just 50 percent capacity will soon have a new way to serve more diners.
The town council decided to allow restaurants to provide seats at tables that can be set up on sidewalks and in parking lots.
The new resolution was adopted May 19, and is to happen while the town’s state of emergency order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is in effect.
There are more than 60 dining spots, bakeries, ice cream shops and markets in town.
Restauranteurs must work with the town building department to make sure what they propose for outdoor service is allowed, Town Manager Edward Pidermann said May 20.
The council asked that permit fees be reduced.
Town Attorney Raul Gastesi said during the council meeting that the town’s resolution can’t force a restaurant’s landlord to comply.
He also said restaurant owners and property owners must agree on how much space can be used for outdoor table service.
With written approval from landlords, restaurants may expand outdoors. The total number of seats – both outdoor and the reduced number inside -- may not exceed the indoor capacity permitted prior to the virus outbreak.
After the state and
Miami-Dade County allowed some non-essential businesses to reopen on May 18, restaurants were required to limit the number of people in their dining rooms; tables must be kept six feet apart.
Martin Cardenas owns Cancun Grill, a Mexican restaurant at 15406 NW 77th Court in the Royal Oaks Plaza which is shown in the photo above.
He said he can normally accommodate 200 customers and employs 53 employees.
But with his bar closed, reducing the number of diners to 60 under the coronavirus formula hurts his business.
“Right now, the situation is very bad,”
Cardenas said during the town meeting.
“We get some help from the government but it’s not enough. The requirements inside the restaurant, the capacity of 50 percent, is impossible to comply [with].
“It’s not going to work,” he told councilmembers. He said if nothing changes, eventually he may have to close his doors.
Vice Mayor Nelson
Rodriguez and councilmembers Carlos Alvarez; Luis Collazao, Joshua
Dieguez and Marilyn
Ruano approved the resolution.
Mayor Manny Cid and Councilman Jeffrey
Rodriguez recused themselves from the vote.
They cited a conflict of interest because they are partners in the Mayor’s Café, which operates in the same shopping center as Cancun Grill.
Nelson Rodriguez, who sponsored the resolution, said outdoor dining in parking lots was feasible and safe.
He said a barrier must separate diners from the parking spaces that will remain for parking.
Senior Planner Susana Alonso said complying with social distancing, with tables placed six feet apart, means three tables would take up five parking spaces.
If the council wants outdoor dining to continue after restaurants to resume operating at full capacity indoors, it must pass an ordinance to allow that to happen, Deputy Town Attorney Lorenzo Cobiella said.