Downtown restaurants are planning the future of outdoor dining; Springfield City Council to Vote on Repeal of COVID-19 Ordinance

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Springfield City Council will vote Monday night on whether or not to repeal the COVID-19 ordinance, which would end masking requirements later this month.

When capacity restrictions for COVID-19 were put in place last year, many downtown restaurants turned to alfresco dining options. Some downtown businesses, like Mudhouse, are planning not only to keep their patio, but to expand it.

Jonathan Stratman, director of Mudhouse, says it allows even more customers to come to the cafe.

“The thought of sitting outside a few years ago would have blew us away,” Stratman says. “When we were able to make up some of the seats lost from all the precautions with COVID-19 to space our tables, being able to stretch out outside was a blessing.

Stratman says guests love being able to sit outside and he hopes it’s something they can continue through the summer with warmer weather.

“People bring their dogs, and it feels more like kind of a community,” Stratman says.

Downtown Springfield Association executive director Rusty Worley said other companies are ditching outdoor seating now that all guidelines may be gone by the end of the month.

“The need for outdoor space just isn’t as great, and they’re going to relocate to where they were before,” Worley says. “It will add a bit of downtown parking, but I think there’s a balance to be found there and the vibrancy you get from those outdoor spaces is just a big plus.”

Worley says the city has relaxed some of the requirements for restaurants to obtain a sidewalk cafe permit during capacity restrictions.

“Some of the insurance requirements[…]cost nothing and really encouraged the staff to make this as easy as possible, ”says Worley.

Worley says restaurants will have to reapply for a permit and meet all the requirements.

Stratman says Mudhouse will do whatever it takes.

“If there is an opportunity for the city to offer a permanent solution or a permanent permit, we would take full advantage of it and jump on it in the blink of an eye,” Stratman says.

Stratman says they’ve even started to adapt their business model to fit the outdoor seating.

“We even worked on redesigning our point of sale to allow people to order outside on their phones. They wouldn’t even have to enter. We would just be able to let them know about it.

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