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Outdoor dining is back on the menu

Outdoor dining is back on the menu

Businesses across Sydney can look forward to entertaining patrons outdoors until the end of 2024 thanks to the City of Sydney extending its on-road outdoor dining program.

Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore said extending the initiative was a natural consequence of the City’s long-term vision for the city.

“In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we wanted to do everything we could to help businesses get back on their feet while bringing communities together,” the Lord Mayor said.

“It’s wonderful to see people out on the streets, connecting with each other and enjoying their neighbourhood while supporting local businesses.”

Since the program’s introduction at the start of the pandemic to support local trade, the City of Sydney has helped more than 500 businesses open up dining on footpaths and streets. New outdoor dining licences have been granted to 148 businesses for on-street trading and a staggering 4,460 square metres of footpath and road space has been converted into alfresco dining areas.

Around 91% of those participating said the program was crucial to their business. Three-quarters said the boost in customer numbers meant they needed to hire more employees, with more than a third seeing a 20% increase in turnover.

Brett Robinson, CEO of The Point Group, said alfresco dining had become an essential part of business at its venue, the Dolphin Hotel on Crown Street.

”They are generally the first seats to fill up each day and the area that drives interest and further patronage once it’s occupied. People love the casual and social setting it provides,” Mr Robinson said.

“It’s added so much vibrancy to the street frontage of the hotel. We are now far busier overall due to the passing traffic seeing activity out the front of the venue and being drawn to the venue as a result.”

The City of Sydney worked with the NSW Government to reallocate road space, fast-track applications and waive fees to help bars, cafes and restaurants navigate the economic impact of the pandemic by allowing patrons to dine outside.

“The outdoor space was an important activation piece when we reopened after the lockdowns, particularly when indoor space was restricted,” Mr Robinson said.

The City of Sydney has agreed to invest another $4 million to extend the program until the end of next year, with current alfresco dining licenses set to expire in April. The associated footpath fees have already been waived until 2025.

This will allow the City of Sydney to carry out a comprehensive review of the scheme, considering the impacts to public domain, precinct character and infrastructure with a view to making on-street dining permanent in appropriate locations.

Image credit: Jessica Lindsay

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