Pub owners concerned as Raleigh studies outdoor dining rules


It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Zack Medford.

First he received an email from the City of Raleigh at 4:59 p.m. on Friday, May 29 letting him know about a Monday, June 1 meeting on a proposed rewrite of city rules that would strip bars of their rights to have tables on city sidewalks.

The change would cut Medford’s revenue in half at Paddy O’Beers, one of three businesses he owns with sidewalk seating on Fayetteville Street.

At the June 1 meeting, the outdoor minibar set up at Medford’s bar, Coglin’s Raleigh, during Brewgaloo on April 25 was used as an example of outdoor dining gone rogue.

While there have been ongoing conversations with city officials about crowding on sidewalks, the outdoor bar issue took him by surprise, he said.

“They are using this as ammunition against us and why this ordinance is required,” he said. “The funny thing is we are fully permitted, and on top of it they never told us that we can’t do this.”

Since at least 2013, Medford has been opening outdoor bars during most downtown events and believed it was sanctioned, he said, as he sought a temporary permit extension from the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. The approval includes a map of the outdoor area with the bar and a sign-off with written comments by the Raleigh Police Department.

The situation is one example of the confusion and frustration stemming from city officials’ proposal – sprung on business owners last week – to revise city rules for restaurants, bars and other spaces that hold outdoor dining permits, which allow them to put tables and chairs on city sidewalks. The controversy is the latest version of an ongoing clash among competing interests and visions as Raleigh’s downtown revitalization takes hold.

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