Grants offered to Iowa City restaurants to winterize outdoor patios

Grant funding to winterize restaurant patios
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 10:22 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - With cooler temperatures, restaurant owners worry about limited seating because of regulations surrounding the novel coronavirus and keeping people safe.

That’s why the city of Iowa City and the downtown district are working to keep outdoor seating available through the winter.

“Winter is always kind of slow,” Cory Kent, owner of Pullman Bar and Diner and St. Burch Tavern, said. “Normally our patios close up, and you lose that extra seating.”

Kent said the extra seating is important during the pandemic. It’s a way to keep customers and staff safe.

“It’s been probably the toughest management I’ve ever had to do,” Kent said.

That’s why the city of Iowa City and the Iowa City Downtown District is rolling out a grant to help businesses like Pullman winterize their patios. It’s allowing individual businesses to apply for grants of $1,750 to create a patio people might want to sit in during the winter.

“If they want to get creative and pool those grant funds together with other restaurants, they can do that,” Nancy Bird, Iowa City Downtown District executive director, said. "We’re encouraging people to get creative and think outside of the box about how they can set a really fun experience for the patrons.

Bird said her organization has made $25-thousand available from its general fund.

“If we can keep our patio equipment out and make sure that they’re used, that’s important because it creates more opportunities for restaurants to be successful,” Bird said.

Businesses need to present a plan to the Iowa City Fire Marshall. Once approved, they can apply for the grant funding.

Kent said this effort to extend the patio season is an important step for restaurants in the upcoming months but says they need to continue looking forward.

“We’re not only worried about this winter, but we’re also talking about next spring and what are some things that we can do to look ahead,” Kent said.

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