Outdoor dining, rain or shine, on the rise in Seattle
"Sidewalk Cafe" permits are on the rise for restaurants in Seattle as patrons flock to al fresco eateries.
Seattle Times staff reporters
For a city with such a rainy reputation, we must have the most optimistic bar and restaurant owners.
So many bars and bistros have started outdoor seating since winter, you would have thought the city was suddenly blessed with Florida sunshine and that a stocking up of sunscreen was in order.
Seattle is in the middle of an al fresco dining boom, with a record 286 "Sidewalk Cafe" permits approved by the city as of the last week of June and more applications pending.
If you stroll along the main drag around the hoods, you can't miss these sidewalk cafes.
There are usually cocktail tables, metal chairs and railings stationed in front or on the side of the bar or restaurant.
By law, sidewalk cafes in downtown must allow at least six feet of open space from the end of its sidewalk dining area to the curb. Outside of downtown, the requirement drops to five feet. Capitol Hill and Belltown each have 39 sidewalk cafes, the most in the city. The others are more scattered, mostly in high foot- traffic or barhopping areas.
In early June, Artusi Bar on Capitol Hill started outdoor seating for the first time, with 10 tables along East Pine Street. Artusi owner and chef Jason Stratton will squeeze in a couple of heat lamps, though he's not sure customers need them.
"Seattleites are crazy. It could be 60 degrees, and if there is sun, they will be in shorts and sandals," said Stratton, who also runs the acclaimed restaurant Spinasse next door. "As long as there is a modicum of sun, people will be out there having a glass of white wine or a cocktail."
He plans to offer outdoor seating until October.
Around Capitol Hill, Five Fish Bistro will start outdoor seating along East Broadway in the coming weeks, and Terra Plata will soon add a bar top along the south end of Melrose Market.
At Pike Place Market, Etta's just started outdoor seating for up to 15 after seeing how quickly all the tourists and downtown workers were grabbing the tables in front of Seatown next door. Both are owned by Tom Douglas. Management at Etta's has ordered bigger tabletops so it can seat more customers outside, across from Victor Steinbrueck Park.
Farther down on the waterfront, the Irish pub Paddy Coyne's expanded with another location on Pier 70, with more than a dozen picnic tables that seat up to 80.
In South Lake Union, Cactus restaurant recently added about 35 seats along Terry Avenue North and Harrison Street for the after-work Amazon crowd.
And on the hip strip of 12th Avenue, two spots — the acclaimed cocktail den Canon and Ba Bar, the popular Vietnamese street-food joint — plan to add small tables and chairs out front in the future.
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or email@example.com. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle.