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Council approves project to expand outdoor dining

Renderings of what an outdoor dining stucture outside Oklawaha Brewing could look like. Renderings of what an outdoor dining stucture outside Oklawaha Brewing could look like.

Hannah Flanagan’s and Oklawaha Brewing may soon feature new outdoor dining structures as pilot sites to expand outdoor seating. The Hendersonville City Council unanimously approved the program Thursday evening.

In May, as a result of Covid-19, the city allowed businesses to expand dining into the sidewalk and 30-minute parking spaces. Oklawaha Brewing and Hannah Flanagan’s did so.

“They found a lot of really great success expanding into those spaces," Downtown Manager Jamie Carpenter said, 

City staff will draft a policy for outdoor dining, by working with Oklawaha Brewing and Hannah Flanagan’s to develop parameters for “appearance, stormwater drainage, traffic flow, visibility, etc.” After six months, a Sidewalk Dining Ordinance will be proposed, allowing for the development of further outdoor dining.

Beyond the current makeshift dining situation at both restaurants, the project aims to develop semi-permanent structures to facilitate sidewalk dining. In September, UNC Greensboro and the NC Main Street Program partnered to have architecture students create renderings for Covid-19 response projects. From then through December, the city worked with Oklawaha Brewing, UNCG, contractors and the city's public works department to plan these semi-permanent dining structures.

Business seeking to expand outdoor dining would need to manage a number of aspects of the structures, including snow removal, cleanliness and maintenance and ensuring the structures are removable in the event of a water line break. The project comes at no cost to the city. Each business is contributing $10,000 or more to cover construction and materials.