More restaurants offering outdoor dining options amid COVID-19 surge in Arizona

More restaurants and bars are expanding their outdoor dining areas, including into parking lots or sidewalks, thanks to new city ordinances.

In Phoenix, city officials saw a big spike in applications over the last several days, after Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order that directed the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control to accept and review requests by liquor licensees who are seeking to temporarily extend their premises outdoors, for the purpose of mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and that such extensions can't exceed 60 feet from the restaurant.

Currently, indoor dining is capped at 50% capacity following a surge in COVID-19 cases during the summer months.

"It’s incredibly important. We refer to it as a lifeline," said Mike Chapman, General Manager of Huss Brewing Co. Uptown. "For about eight weeks in a row, I was turning away people Friday night because we were at capacity."

Huss Brewing Company is one of the first Phoenix restaurants taking advantage of the city’s temporary outdoor dining program.

"It allows us to pretty much make up for the 50% capacity that we lost with the ordinance," said Chapman. "Now, with extension of the premise and the Governor's grant, we can buy more tables. We’ll be back up to about 96 seats."

In addition to expanding outdoor dining, Gov. Ducey also announced that $1.2 million will be allocated to help struggling restaurants.

"It allows them to be within 60 feet, so if they need to put it in a parking lot or landscaped area. It could be done that way," said Sam McAllen with the City of Phoenix.

Phoenix businesses also have the option to expand into city sidewalks and streets, the city’s transportation department has an expedited program for that.

"With the Governor’s announcement last week of new executive order, which makes it easier for some to serve alcohol to find a location, we’ve had 44 applicants come in," said McAllen. "We’ve issued 14 permits so far. After the order, we had 20 of those applicants come in. So the first four days of this week have been pretty busy."

The City of Phoenix is encouraging business owners to apply for the temporary outdoor dining program– and the application process is free

Phoenix Temporary Outdoor Dining Program