Peoria now allows restaurants to expand outdoor seating capacity without permit process

Brandon Richter hasn’t had a year quite like this since he opened Richter Aleworks in 2016, and it's safe to say no one has. As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic slashed indoor capacity numbers in Arizona, Richter considered outdoor seating

"I was concerned about the timeframe. The earliest I was going to do this was February, and I started this process in July. That’s a long process for what we’re going through right now and not being able to have that seating," said Richter.

Richter talked with the City of Peoria extensively. Now, officials in the West Valley city are allowing all bars and restaurants to expand outdoor seating capacity temporarily, without the regular permit process. This new decision could be the difference between whether or not a place can keep the doors open.

"Right now, every dollar counts, and to see money and customers walk out the door, it’s not a good feeling," said Richter.

Increased outdoor capacity could get some places back to regular occupancy levels.

"We’re trying to create a process where they could extend their patios very quickly, versus a process that might take a few months, but very quickly and without a fee attached to it," said City of Peoria Planning Director Chris Jacques.

Richter has the plans in place, and hopes it could be permanent one day.

"Our neighbors are excited for us," said Richter. "They’re like, 'Hey, you guys should put a patio in.' Believe me, we want to, and we’re working on it right now, but we should be able to get enough people out here to make up for our occupancy inside."

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