With Multnomah County officially reopened, a Portland City Hall plan to set aside parts of streets for restaurant and bar tables is underway.
And judging from the sights and sounds this weekend, Portlanders are eager to have a burger and a beer in the road.
In early May, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly approved a plan to limit cars on some neighborhood streets, turning them into walkable promenades. Then, later in the month, the Portland Bureau of Transportation unveiled a program allowing businesses to apply to use the sidewalks and parking spaces outside their storefronts as dining and shopping areas in order to better comply with social distancing measures.
Now, with retailers welcoming back customers, and restaurants and bars allowed to offer limited dine-in service again, that program is being put into action. A stroll through the city's commercial districts showed the program was already popular: At one Alphabet District intersection, bars had erected fenced beer gardens on both sides of Northwest 21st Avenue, and every table was filled.
So where can you find these roadside attractions? As it did when introducing the new neighborhood greenways, the city has created an interactive map of the businesses approved for the permits.
In a Q&A with the Portland Independent Restaurant Alliance last week, PBOT representative Greg Raisman said over 350 businesses had applied for a "Healthy Businesses" permit. The permits are valid through Nov. 1, 2020.
The program has had a shaky rollout: On May 29, PBOT sent an email to around 800 local businesses, notifying them that their sidewalk cafe permits would be suspended through October and encouraging them to instead sign up for the Healthy Businesses program. The bureau later walked back that message, saying any business with a sidewalk cafe permit would be automatically enrolled in the new plaza program without having to submit an application.