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Restaurant owner says new outdoor seating program won’t work for everyone

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BOAR AND BARREL

MADISON (WKOW) -- The City of Madison issued an emergency order Thursday that would expand outdoor restaurant seating.

The "Streatery" restaurant recovery program temporarily allows restaurants to extend outdoor dining onto public sidewalks, on-street parking areas, and privately owned parking lots.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway says the program will help restaurants expand capacity while enforcing social distancing.

Restaurants are hopeful this will help them gain more business during the warmer weather.

Some streets, like the 100 block of East Mifflin street, may even be closed to everyday traffic to allow for outdoor seating on the road.

The Boar and Barrel in downtown Madison could benefit from that, being next to that block, but owner Josh Jiru says the plan only looks good on paper.

Now that they can open at 25% capacity, he says that's not enough business to keep paying the bills.

He's decided to stay closed until at least 75% capacity is allowed.

He says they just bought a set of patio furniture for their existing size for around $2,700.

Jiru says pushing for outdoor seating is not financially feasible.

"So I'm not sure, how much they're letting us expand but even just to double that, another $3,000 of equipment that I'm only going to have in use for three months and then it'll just get dusty in the basement doesn't make sense to me," he said.

He says he can understand how it would work for larger restaurants, or places with multiple locations that can share extra supplies from one place to another.

Other restaurants 27 News spoke to say they praise the program and are already making the necessary preparations.

The program will expire on October 25th, or whenever public health officials allow restaurants to return to normal operations.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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