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‘Cafe Zone’ to open downtown, expanding restaurant capacity limits

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MADISON (WKOW) -- An entire block of downtown Madison will be shutting down to make room for more outdoor seating as reopening plans enforce capacity limits during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Five restaurants on the 100 block of South Pinckney street will be closed to traffic Wednesday to expand seating into the streets. It’s called the “Cafe Zone” to allow businesses to welcome more patrons. 

It's part of Madison's mayoral emergency order called the Streatery Restaurant Recovery Program to temporarily allow restaurants to expand outdoor dining onto the public sidewalks, on-street parking areas, or in privately-owned parking lots through an administrative approval process.

For business owner Sam Parker, who opened the Settle Down Tavern in midst of the pandemic, says this expansion will make a big difference. 

"A brand new restaurant that opened during a pandemic has been a challenge but this is going to help us out a lot,” said Parker. “Adding another 30 to 40 seats outside will be beneficial.”

City officials said the 'Cafe Zone' is not meant for large gatherings or street parties, restrictions will still apply. Patrons will be set 6 feet apart and business owners said staff will wear masks and continue to wipe down areas before and after customers. 

Expanding capacity into the streets or parking lots is offered to any business said Madison officials. For guidelines and ways to apply click here. 

Restaurants participating include, Lucille, Merchant, Jonny Delmonicos, and the Settle Down Tavern.

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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