Little Rock restaurants can now apply to expand capacity with ‘dine out’ option

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Starting Tuesday, businesses in Little Rock can start applying to add dining tables to their parking lots.

This comes one week after Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced a new initiative that will allow restaurants to use spaces like sidewalks and parking lots for additional seating.

“I’d say that we’re ways away from being profitable, but several of the pieces are starting to come together for us,” Owner of The Library Kitchen and Lounge Rob Byford said.

Health guidelines require restaurants, bars, and clubs to operate at 33% capacity, and Byford said it’s a big change.

“Our guests are having an opportunity to come in and hang out and enjoy some sort of new normalcy,” Byford said.

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said the initiative allows businesses to expand seating into vacant outdoor areas without having to worry about city fees.

“It’s a great opportunity, specifically for my business located in the heart of the River Market Entertainment District. It just makes sense for us,” Byford said.

The city hopes this will give businesses a fast-track, no-cost way to help recover from the impact of COVID-19.

“We’re looking to try to increase the number of patrons that go to the restaurant, bar, or club, while also trying to maintain safety in areas that were not originally intended for use like a parking lot,” Little Rock Director of Planning and Development Jamie Collins said.

The application is now live on the city’s website and Byford said he applied Tuesday morning.

He hopes to have defined barriers to mark off seating areas by this weekend.

“When they send it in, we sit down and we send it out to several departments,” Collins said.

Businesses can expect an approval within three days if they aren’t serving alcohol.

If they do plan to serve alcohol, they’ll have to also be approved by Alcohol Beverage Control.

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