Mayor Bowser Urges Council to Pass the Reopen Washington, DC Alcohol Act as Local Restaurants and Residents Express Continued Support for Reimagining Public Space
Washington, DC (STL.News) Mayor Muriel Bowser called on the Council of the District of Columbia to take up and pass the Reopen Washington, DC Alcohol Act to help support the District’s recovery and provide innovative approaches to help rebuild the District’s economy. The Bowser Administration released two public surveys conducted by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Office of Planning (OP) showing broad support for the DC Streatery Program, and that restaurants have experienced positive economic benefits by participating in the DC Streatery Program. According to DDOT’s survey, 89% of local businesses operating a streatery overwhelmingly support a permanent DDOT Streatery Program.
“Our local business community has been resilient, but we know that to get through this pandemic and ultimately recover, we will also need to seize this opportunity to be bold and innovative,” said Mayor Bowser. “The Streatery Program has been one example of a lifeline that helped businesses operate safely, stay afloat, keep their employees on the payroll. We look forward to working with the Council to extend the Streatery Program, even after the public health emergency ends.”
Proposed provisions in the Reopen Washington, DC Alcohol Act include:
- Extending programs introduced on an emergency basis, including streateries
- Establishing a Commercial Lifestyle License that allows patrons to walk around and consume alcohol purchased from on-premises establishments within predefined boundaries
- Creating a new 25% full-service grocery store Class A License to help attract new full service grocery stores to Wards 7 and 8.
- Applicants interested in using this license to open a Class A grocery store in Wards 1-6 must first operate such a store in Wards 7 and 8 for at least six months
- Amending several licensing operational requirements
“At the start of the pandemic, Mayor Bowser established health, opportunity, prosperity and equity (DC HOPE) as the guiding principles for DC’s economic relief, recovery, and growth efforts,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “It has been said that hope is belief in things unseen. However, when it comes to streateries, they give us hope because of the impact we have seen. This new survey data from the industry should propel the ReOpen Washington, DC Alcohol Act to immediate consideration and ultimate passage by the Council.”
Mayor Bowser announced the Streatery Program in June 2020 to expand outdoor dining within public space during the public health emergency. Through the program, permitted restaurants may offer outdoor dining on sidewalks, and in parking lanes, travel lanes, alleys, and public plazas. As of January 2021, 304 public space permits have been issued for streateries within the District of Columbia.
“The Streatery program has been a huge collaborative effort across teams within DDOT and with our sister agencies, and has proven to be incredibly beneficial for such an important stakeholder – DC’s vibrant restaurant community,” said Interim DDOT Director Everett Lott. “We are excited to continue this team effort as we consider the future of the program.”
DDOT Streatery Report
The DDOT online survey was sent to restaurants participating in the Streatery Program to get feedback on the program. Key takeaways from the nearly 100 current permit holders include:
- 87%: Streatery Program increased their business revenue compared to not having a streatery
Individual business revenue increased an average of 34 percent
- 78%: Streatery Program allowed them to rehire, retain, or expand their staff, with an average of seven employees per restaurant
Streateries allowed restaurants to expand seating capacity by an average of 100% compared to the number of seats allowed under the
- 50% indoor capacity restrictions
- 89%: Overwhelmingly support a permanent DDOT Streatery Program once the public health emergency ends
OP Streatery Public Survey
The OP online survey sought public feedback on residents’ experiences with outdoor dining and retail establishments, such as streateries, in the District during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Key takeaways from over 3,000 respondents include:
- 71%: Presence of outdoor dining and curbside pickup and delivery increased their access to additional dining and food options
- 73%: Presence of an outdoor dining and/or curbside pickup and delivery option during the pandemic caused them to eat out more, or pick up food to go, than they would have if those outdoor options did not exist
- 40%: Outdoor dining and curbside pickup and delivery allowed them or someone they know to maintain a job in the restaurant industry during the pandemic
Any restaurants or community organizations interested in participating in the Streatery Program should review the guidelines here for information on the design requirements and permitting process.