Collier commissioner wants expanded outdoor seating for restaurants

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

Collier County Commissioner Penny Taylor wants to allow restaurants to expand their outdoor seating into the parking lot.

Taylor shared her thoughts about reopening restaurant during a Friday meeting in East Naples. She says she’s frustrated local businesses are suffering.

We spoke to Taylor after the meeting in the parking lot of Three60 Market. She does not want to see restaurants suffer any longer and says parking lot spaces like the market’s would be great use for outdoor seating.

Taylor says a lot of restaurants have been reaching out to her with concerns that only being able to hold 25% capacity in restaurants will be really hard on them, maybe not even worth opening.

“We are in crisis mode,” Taylor told WINK News. “We are in a time where we have to be nimble; we have to think out of the box, do it legally and do it safely. But let’s respond to the people who need our help. That’s what we are there for.”

Restaurants and businesses are excited to open back up for phase one of the reopening plan, but they are also still concerned.

“The models for 25% is going to be tough,” said Gary Rudd, a manager at Three60 Market.

Three60 market says it would be nice to have more area to use to social distance their customers.

And that’s why Lisa Boet, the owner of Chez Boet sent a letter to Collier County commissioners, asking them for help.

“We are in a crisis. We have to be nimble,” Taylor said. “We have to think out of the box and do it legally and do it safe let’s respond to the citizens that’s what we are there for.”

Places in Lee County have already started allowing restaurants to do this. Restaurants are hoping it will be allowed in Collier County too.

“We are happy someone is sticking up for us and knows how important it is for our staff and for our family and our local businesses,” said. “We’ve been doing what we can, but this will be a changing point if that could happen.”

Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis also mentioned expanded outdoor seating for restaurants during his public announcement.

And Taylor says she has already spoken to the fire department, and they are on board to try and do this as safely as possible.

Commissioner Taylor says she was hoping more commissioners would have showed up to the meeting Friday and hopes to talk with them Monday to get this going. If that doesn’t happen, the commissioners’ next scheduled meeting is May 12.

“The goal is to get people working again, to make these business stop bleeding the money they have been doing,” Taylor said.

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