City of Houghton allowing restaurants and bars to extend service onto city property on a case by case basis

Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 8:18 PM EDT
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Due to social distancing guidelines restaurants and bars are not able to fully utilize their seating. The city of Houghton has worked up a solution.

"In talking to some of the business owners we were looking at ways the city may be able to help them. One of those ways is the ability for them to move some of their dining, which may include bar service, outdoors and ultimately a couple of businesses were interested in that," said Eric Waara, Houghton’s City Manager.

The move would give restaurants access to city property including, sidewalks and the parking deck, for dining this summer, and applications are handled on a case by case basis.

"It comes down to the practicality of it, more than anything, because the rules state that it has to be continuous to the licensee, so it can't be across the street, or down the block, it has to be continuous," added Waara.

Restaurants without outdoor seating also have an easier time obtaining an outdoor liquor license through the state this summer.

"That would allow them, for this summer, an easier license to have some outdoor service, but one of the things was that if they were spilling out onto a city sidewalk or city owned property, they would have to have the approval of the governing municipalities," said Waara.

A big part of the decision was making sure these businesses could maximize their customers during the summer.

"We have a short season, and ultimately most places in the U.P., especially summer oriented businesses only have that short season to really take advantage of that traffic and folks coming here," said Waara.

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