CHANDLER, AZ — The City of Chandler's City Council voted Thursday afternoon to end its "On the Street" program, which allowed some businesses and restaurants in downtown Chandler to build temporary outdoor patios in place of curbside parking.
Several cities in the Valley launched similar programs as a way to help bars and restaurants seat more people during the COVID-19 pandemic when indoor dining was either closed or open at 50% capacity.
The program was scheduled to end on May 31. Businesses will have a grace period until mid-July to take down the patio structures, according to Stephanie Romero, public information officer for the City of Chandler.
She also said the City Council also asked city staff to "come back with a proposal for a permanent solution or a seasonal program for outdoor dining in the entertainment district."
Eight businesses in Chandler were part of the program, including The Brickyard Downtown, Mingle & Graze, Pedal Haus Brewery, and SanTan Brewing.
The Brickyard, Pedal Haus, and the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership all sent in letters in support of keeping the program.
"The outdoor street dining program has been absolutely pivotal in creating healthy and safe dining spaces for our community and a new opportunity for our business to sustain itself," wrote Gavin Jacobs, co-owner of The Brickyard Downtown and The Hidden House.
Chris Purcell, chief operating officer for Pedal Haus' Chandler location, said in a letter, dated April 9, that despite restrictions being lifted in the state, their guests still prefer to eat outdoors, where they can remain socially distanced from others.
"During the past two weeks, 17% of all of our sales came from guests sitting on our street-side patio. Prior to that, we found guests waiting for outdoor tables almost two to one over guests comfortable sitting inside," Purcell wrote.
On its Facebook page, Mingle & Graze said the patios brought "a cool vibe to downtown Chandler."
The Council also voted to permanently keep the "Dine in the Park" program, which allowed people to bring chairs and blankets and eat on the western side of Dr. A.J. Chandler Park. It also allows people to consume beer and wine at the park during certain hours.