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Several Downtown La Crosse restaurants among first to try new outdoor cafe program
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Several Downtown La Crosse restaurants among first to try new outdoor cafe program

La Crosse Outdoor Cafe Program

The city of La Crosse is looking to offer more of its outdoor spaces for businesses to operate during COVID-19. This is one rendering from the city's initial draft of the plan, where a restaurant occupies street parking spots.

Four bars and restaurants in Downtown La Crosse are among the first to be approved for the city’s new COVID-19 inspired Outdoor Cafe Program, allowing patrons to safely dine outside on sidewalks and streets.

The Crow, Soula’s Cuisina, La Crosse Distilling Co. and the Charmant Hotel were all approved for the program on Monday by the Board of Public Works, after each business supplied plans for their outdoor seating options.

The program was approved by the city last month to give businesses more options for operating during COVID-19. Experts currently support that the novel coronavirus does not spread as easily in outdoors spaces.

Restaurants and bars can apply to expand its outdoor operations through the program, including occupying designated sidewalk, street and paved plaza spaces.

The Crow was approved to set up shop in parking stalls adjacent to its building outside Third and Main Streets. It’s request to expand its liquor license to serve in the outdoor spaces was also approved.

At Soula’s Cuisina, the city gave the Greek restaurant approval to set up two to three tables in the parking spots outside its building on Main Street. It will be an expansion on the restaurant’s existing sidewalk cafe.

For La Crosse Distilling Co., it will have a combination of street and sidewalk cafe seating. On Second Street, the pub will set up six tables along its sidewalk, and on Vine Street, six tables will be available in the street parking stalls.

The distillery’s liquor license was also expanded so drinks can be served to those patrons in the new outdoor cafe spaces.

The Charmant Hotel’s request for a sidewalk cafe along the front of its building on Front Street was also approved. It’s existing flower planters will serve as its pedestrian barrier, and ropes will fill in the gaps to contain the space.

All spaces occupying street parking will be appropriately fenced off with traffic barriers that will sit between patrons and oncoming traffic.

The outdoor spaces will also be required to be spaced out enough to allow for six-foot social distancing requirements between guests.

No applications have yet been approved for a “Cafe Zone” — where a section of an entire street could be blocked off for multiple businesses to use.

There are no deadlines for a business to apply for the program, though these permits are valid through Nov. 13. All applicants must be reviewed by the city’s Board of Public Works.

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