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Dallas Restaurants Can Now Apply for Permits to Build ‘Parklets’ That Encourage Social Distancing

The future of dining could be found in parking lots

a large wooden bench makes up a parklet in the parking lot of Revelers Hall
The new semi-permanent parklet at Revelers Hall
Jason Roberts for Revelers Hall

As businesses state-wide contend with social distancing recommendations, a few Dallas restaurants have found a clever workaround — turning their sidewalks and parking spaces into addition table space.

The city of Dallas is officially sanctioning this move with a temporary permitting process to allow businesses to build parklets, the Dallas Morning News reports. According to the rules, temporary parklets need traffic control barriers on each side of the designated seating area and an 18-inch buffer from traffic. These barriers can be as simple as chairs and tables set outside, and must be removed every night. The temporary permits should be approved within three days and will be valid for two months.

It’s a clever way to maintain social distancing rules, since restaurants are not required to limit capacity on patios — so long as there is at least six feet of distance between parties. “The intent here is to create something that is low-barrier, low-cost and temporary in nature,” Kourtny Garrett, president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc., told the Dallas Morning News.

Before the pandemic, the city had established a pilot program for businesses to apply for a permanent parklet, Bishop Arts restaurant Revelers Hall installed a semi-permanent parklet outside earlier this month. “If you walk the district now, you’ll see people eating outside and pedestrians having to pass them within three feet,” co-owner Jason Roberts wrote on Facebook. “This keeps the sidewalk clear and moves the seating at a much safer distance.”

Business owners hope the temporary parklet project will create more interest for permanent parklet structures like the one at Revelers Hall.