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Downtown bars and restaurants now allowed to serve outdoors on Main Street

Before the pandemic, Main Street in downtown Houston was a bustling spot, especially on the weekends, that would draw restaurant-goers and bar hoppers alike.

Houston City Council has now given the OK to bring back business to the popular stretch. On Wednesday, council members approved an ordinance that would allow bars and eateries to use unutilized, outdoor street space to serve food and drinks to customers, while also keeping social distancing guidelines in mind.

The Main Street ordinance, proposed under the “More Spaces” plan that was approved back in August, will require the strip of roadway to close to vehicle traffic. In this case, Main would be closed from Commerce to Rusk streets.

“This effort is intended to provide an economic boost to restaurants and bars by increasing the customer seating area while maintaining social distancing during COVID-19 occupancy restrictions, and support Downtown, as these businesses progress towards stable operations,” the city council agenda item for “More Space Main Street” stated.

Back when More Spaces was originally approved, the Main Street ordinance was dependent on Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission approving restaurants that sell alcohol. METRO also needed to sign off on the plan because of the light rail that runs in the middle of Main Street.

Businesses will be required to submit their plans on how they will operate.

Details of the approved ordinance also include:

  • Allow restaurants and bars to serve customers by establishing temporary enclosures and setting up tables and chairs.
  • Establish no fee for businesses to participate in this program.
  • Continue the program through March 31, 2022.