Plan moves forward to help restaurants provide outdoor dining through winter

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Members of the Milwaukee Common Council are moving forward with a plan that would help restaurants provide outdoor dining through the winter. 

If the resolution passes, that would mean the "Active Streets" program that allows restaurants to have tables out on the streets would be extended until March 15, 2021. It was set to expire in November. 

“I think it’s a great idea. Currently, I don’t really feel comfortable going into a restaurant to eat," said resident Carrie Seidl.

The company, Cream City Concepts, owns Oak Barrel, Who’s On Third and Third Street Tavern.

They are three restaurants on Old World Third Street with an outside option.

“It also adds more seating that we don’t get restricted for the capacity," David Gawlick, Cream City Concepts director of operations, said.

"Active Streets" was originally approved in June, and the city issued 42 permits so far. City officials say they have not had any incidents since it started. They say the resolution would allow restaurants to have temporary structures, like tents and heating devices, for winter months. 

Some members of the Milwaukee Common Council are pushing for it, while others are skeptical. 

"As we see the highest ever record shattering cases in our nation and especially our state and now our city, we’ve got to change the way we do everything," said Milwaukee Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, 14th District. 

"You’ve got to then mark up all those extra costs like the heat, the paneling whatever whatever and at a certain stage if I’m a restaurant owner you know I’m going to have to say to myself at what stage does this make sense," said Milwaukee Alderman Mark Borkowski, 11th District. 

If the resolution doesn’t pass Gawlick said that, once again, be forced to adapt to survive.

“If you want to be able to keep your doors open you’re going to have to find a way to provide safe service, a welcoming environment that customers can come in – whether it be building barriers inside that most restaurants don’t have," said Gawlick.

“I know, for me, that would mean I would go back to just having take-out," Seidl added.

The resolution will now head to the full common council for consideration on November 4.

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