EAST WENATCHEE — Streateries were a child of the COVID-19 pandemic as restaurants searched for ways to operate under stay-at-home-orders, but they may become part of East Wenatchee’s new normal going forward.
The term, a mash-up of street and eatery, refers to a small outdoor dining area on a street. The East Wenatchee City Council approved a six-month pilot streatery program along Valley Mall Parkway during Tuesday’s council meeting. The vote was unanimous, with councilmember Matthew Hepner absent from the meeting.
Permits issued under the program are free and will expire on Nov. 30. Businesses can use up to three parking spaces in front of their establishment for outdoor seating.
The program follows a temporary ordinance the city adopted in August 2020 that allowed streateries along Valley Mall Parkway between 6th Street and 9th Street following a request from a downtown restaurant.
According to the council’s agenda packet, this was the only option for outdoor seating in this area. Businesses with off-street parking already had the ability to convert some of their parking spaces to outdoor seating and service areas. However, those without off-street parking, like the business along Valley Mall Parkway, were out of luck. Sidewalk cafe-style dining was also not an option since sidewalks in this area are generally 7-8 feet in width, which can’t simultaneously accommodate a seating area and meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for pedestrian access.
Lori Barnett, the city’s community development director, said only one business took advantage of the August 2020 ordinance but that city staff recently received requests from three businesses for streateries.
Although the six-month program the council approved Tuesday night is only temporary, Barnett said city staff will be evaluating whether to make streatery seating available on a more permanent basis. A public hearing regarding the program will be held during the city council meeting on Aug. 24.