By Shereen Siewert

City officials are considering a proposal to expand outdoor food and alcohol service for downtown restaurants, a request made by Compass Properties General Manager Mark Craig.

Though the changes proposed by Craig are specific to restaurants in the 300 and 400 blocks of Third Street, some ordinance changes would apply citywide to all restaurants, according to city documents.

The proposed changes, which aim to add outdoor seating and enhance curbside pickup and delivery options for downtown restaurants, include these six facets:

  • Allowing seating to extend beyond the boundaries of storefronts along Third Street, with permission from neighboring businesses
  • Permit closing the street in the 300 and 400 blocks each Wednesday night from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for “Dining in the Street.” This proposal calls for restaurants to place tables and chairs in the street to serve customers. Those sections would have marked sections representing different restaurants, placed in front of each establishment. Alcohol and food would be served.
  • Allow The Mint Cafe and Townies to use portions of The 400 Block patio with the tables and chairs for their patrons. Those two sections would be clearly marked; alcohol and food would be served.
  • Add two 15-minute stalls in the 300 block, adjacent to the existing 15-minute stall in front of Ciao Restaurant to accommodate curbside and pickup meals for Jalapeno’s, Ciao, Lemongrass, Polito’s Pizza and Sweet Lola’s. The 15-minute stall on the north end of the block would be eliminated.
  • Remove the 4-foot tall bollards along Third Street to create more seating and table locations for outdoor dining.
  • Allow restaurants along Third Street to close off two to three parking stalls adjacent to their sidewalk seating to increase outdoor seating space.

In his proposal to the city attorney’s office, Craig noted that the Wausau area enjoys roughly 100 days for outdoor dining due to our climate.

“Having a nimble city government to respond quickly in May will allow each location to better prepare and have a greater chance of success,” Craig wrote.

A memo from the city attorney’s office included in a Public Health and Safety Committee packet points out that the proposal is a chance to assess what steps might be taken, at least temporariliy, to benefit all restaurants in the city during this period of reopening.

Members of the Public Health and Safety Committee will review the request at 5:15 p.m. Monday, May 18 at City Hall.