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Businesses expand outdoors amid loosening restrictions

Back in August, TABC changed guidelines allowing them to operate as restaurants, but only if they provide pre-packaged food or work with food trucks.
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 11:13 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - After months of struggling, things might be looking up for bars and restaurants in town.

This comes as city council voted in favor of a program that will assist with the reopening or expansion of these businesses.

Cultura Beer Garden in downtown Laredo may not have completely shut down during the pandemic, but they understand more than anyone the impact COVID-19 has been on the industry.

“Business owners that I know downtown, everyone has been struggling, it’s been such a hard time for all of us, so I’m really happy this can help everyone here," said Valeria Contreras.

Now, the tides are changing for bars.

Back in August, TABC changed guidelines allowing them to operate as restaurants, but only if they provide pre-packaged food or work with food trucks.

With this in place, the city is following in the footsteps of cities like Austin who are letting restaurants and bars to expand business outdoors.

Monday night, the City Planning and Zoning Director presented options for expansion including onto sidewalks, on-street parking, off-street parking or temporary closed public streets.

“Here’s an example, Iturbide," said Kirby Snideman. "If they can come up with a plan to shut down the streets say for a weekend like for the bars on Iturbide. I think it’d be a great idea to work with them. There is a cost for shutting down streets, just as you many know with any event on a street there’s traffic and police usually incur cost as long as they’re willing to pay the cost I say why not, why not shut down a street and allow them to use it.”

Another option is to allow restaurant and food trucks to operate at any city park as long as they don’t sell alcohol, something Tacho’s Food Truck owner Divain Ceballos says is great news, especially since they’ve been struggling with customers during COVID.

“I think that’s a great idea and it’s beautiful, it’s going to help us all a lot," said Ceballos. "Speaking for myself, my business is hurting, there’s a lot less sales than what we were doing before so that’s going to be a great opportunity.”

Social distancing will still apply and businesses will need to get their site plan approved by the building department.

The program will be in place till December 2021.

The city will temporarily suspend parking requirements or anything that would limit the ability to do these things.

The only rule they are keeping in place is the noise ordinance.

Copyright 2020 KGNS. All rights reserved.

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