Philadelphia drops new regulations on streeteries: Here’s what you should know

Outdoor dining at Philadelphia restaurant. (6abc)

Outdoor dining at Philadelphia restaurant. (6abc)

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

New regulations for outdoor dining spaces in Philadelphia were issued by the city on Wednesday.

Through the pandemic and beyond, the outdoor “streeteries” around Philadelphia have served as a lifeline of revenue for hundreds of restaurants.

It’s been no exception for Spoonie O’Neal at his name-sake pub on South 3rd Street.

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“It’s been hugely, hugely good for us. People love being out here,” said O’Neal.

But now he thinks he may have to take his down.

He utilized tents as covering.

But the new regulations clearly state that’s not allowed.

“It doesn’t look business-friendly for us. It looks like we’d have to scrap everything and start from scratch,” said O’Neal.

He is just one example of where we saw streeteries no longer meeting the new standards.

Cotoletta Fitler Square remodeled a shipping container. That’s no longer permitted.

The regulations also state streeteries at certain intersections must have a 30-foot buffer zone from the corner. But there’s plenty around the city that’ll clearly have to be moved.

Also, propane-sourced heaters have to go.

“Maybe if some streetery had a track record of a lot of crashes or a lot of problems – OK great, then look at that. But we haven’t had any incidents whatsoever,” said O’Neal.

But not everyone feels the way O’Neal does.

Ben Fileccia with the PA Restaurant and Lodging Association says the initial regulations proposed earlier this year would have made it nearly impossible for restaurants to operate a streetery.

“The original regulations had a $60,000 bond. They made that zero-dollar bond. With any inclement weather you’d have to remove your structure within 24 hours,” said Fileccia.

But he also acknowledges some restaurants will be hurt and he hopes to somehow rectify those issues.

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Many restaurants we spoke with say they weren’t even aware new regulations had come down.

For restaurants wanting to know what’s allowed or not, there are two future webinar sessions being hosted by the city: one on October 31 at 9:30 a.m. and another on November 21 at 10:30 a.m.

While the regulations go into effect immediately, restaurant owners will have a period of time to review options available to them, prepare necessary documents, submit applications and remove existing streetery setups that do not comply with the regulations.

“For the safety of our residents and visitors, it is imperative that businesses remove or make any necessary adjustments to existing structures and set-ups sooner rather than later,” said Department of Licenses and Inspections Commissioner Ralph DiPietro. “Compliance is key for ongoing access to outdoor dining experiences. City agencies will be supportive of businesses through this process.”

Click here to learn more about the new regulations.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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