New Bern restaurants can apply for street cafe permits

NEW BERN, NC (WITN) - The City of New Bern is making changes to its downtown ordinance due to COVID-19. The amended ordinance allows restaurants to create street cafes for their customers to dine outside.

City leaders said they are working to help restaurants citywide with economic recovery from the coronavirus and to allow restaurants more room to serve patrons during the State of North Carolina’s Phase 2 reopening.

Phase 2 is scheduled to begin on Friday, May 22nd, and last for 4-6 weeks.

According to Colleen Roberts, New Bern Public Information Officer, the city recommends restaurants exercise stringent social distancing and capacity guidelines whether indoor or outdoor dining. Adding that the street cafe permit is necessary to allow restaurants, upon approval, to serve patrons outside of their facilities.

In the downtown area, the city has agreed to close portions of streets on Friday & Saturday nights from 5 pm-11 pm so tables and chairs can be set up for outdoor dining.

The street closures include the 200-300 blocks of Middle Street,
the 200 block of Craven Street from Morgan’s Tavern & Grill to Pollock Street, and the 300 block of Pollock Street

The city is also suspending zoning enforcement for outdoor dining and parking requirements for restaurants with adequate greenspace or parking lots to allow them to use that space to serve customers outdoors.

Roberts said, restaurants with their own space only need to provide a sketch to the city's Development Services Department that shows the outdoor dining area to ensure emergency service ingress and egress.

There is no fee for restaurants to request outdoor dining.

The street cafe permit is only good for the duration of the State’s Phase 2 reopening plan, which should end 4-6 weeks after the May 22 start date. Also, restaurants may not exceed their indoor seating capacity when combining the number of outdoor and indoor tables.

Completed permit documents should be taken to Development Services at 303 First Street in New Bern for final approval of cafe locations. Development Services is open Monday through Friday from 8 am-5 pm.

For questions, contact Development Services at (252)639-7581.