Some restaurants in downtown Louisa, still struggling to make ends meet as the coronavirus pandemic continues, have asked the town for permission to expand outdoor seating onto sidewalks and even into the street.
The owners of Obrigados Restaurant and Floozies Pie Shop made the request to Louisa Town Council at its July 21 meeting. The council voted 5-0 to approve more seating contingent on support from the Virginia Department of Transportation, which maintains a right-of-way that includes the sidewalk.
Jade Lourenco and Debbie Wollett told council that other restaurants along West Main Street, including AnnieMac’s Kitchen, could also benefit from the change. While the statewide move to Phase III of reopening included indoor dining, patrons have to maintain social distancing and bar seating is not allowed. The two businesses have minimal outdoor seating now; while they have made use of tables in the Downtown Gardens, that space has some limitations such as its distance down the block.
The restaurant owners said if street parking directly in front of the businesses were removed temporarily, seating could be placed there and shielded from traffic with potted plants. They noted there is enough parking nearby, including spaces on Courthouse Square.
Other businesses in the town have gotten creative to ensure they have some outdoor seating for customers. When it re-opened in May, Roma’s Italian Restaurant in the Glen Mayre Shopping Center used potted plants to surround tables on the sidewalk. Unlike on Main Street, the sidewalk in front of Roma’s is privately-owned.
“I think we should do everything we can to support not only these businesses, but others,” said Councilor Bud Dulaney.
Brad Humphrey, the town engineer, advised council that a five-foot passageway on the sidewalk has to be maintained for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“We don’t want people to have to walk out in the traffic lane,” he said.
In other business, the council’s streets and sidewalks committee will research policies for future use of the welcome signs that greet people entering the town on West Main Street, Courthouse Road and East Main Street.
The stainless steel signs were built by Piedmont Metal Fabricators, which operates at the end of Hollyhurst Lane, and donated to the town at no cost, said Mayor Garland Nuckols.
Numerous community organizations have placards affixed to the signs. Recently the local chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution asked to post one, the mayor said.
The council also approved event permits for Louisa United, which plans a march and rally on July 25 (see related article on page 1), and Sierra Dean for Children’s Lives Matter, which will hold an event in the Shoppers Value Parking Lot on Aug. 1 from 4 to 7 p.m.
Dean said in her application that she plans to have a deejay and that the purpose of her event is to “get the community kids together.” She has invited area police and fire departments to participate.
A third event approved by council this week is for Touching Hearts at Home and Fresh Air Flix, two new Louisa-based businesses, to hold a movie night on the baseball field near Town Hall on Aug. 28. A screen will be set up on the grass in the outfield.
Council approved a special use permit for Clyde Anderson to operate a used car dealership, Done Right Auto, from a commercial building at 101 Loch Lane Drive behind Panda Garden Restaurant. The roughly 1,700-square-foot property is owned by Mark Bossie.
Anderson told council he plans to have 10 to 15 cars for sale and that he will not do any repairs on-site. Town Manager Liz Nelson said there is no limit in the permit or in the town code on the number of cars Anderson can have on the property, as long as they are operable.
This was the final council meeting for Humphrey, who is leaving the town for a new position.