Permits help downtown Greensboro restaurants increase customers

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — The City of Greensboro has been working with restaurant owners to help them bounce back from a big economic blow. Owners are encouraged to apply for Special Event Permits to move dining outside to help increase their customers.

But there seems to be some confusion.

So, Downtown Greensboro Inc. representatives are going door-to-door handing out special event permits to help owners get approval for additional outdoor patio seating.

“I want every restaurant in particular downtown to certainly apply,” said Zack Matheny, DGI president.

Filling out a simple application would allow restaurants to sell food and alcohol outside their front doors.

“Where you can extend your seating onto the sidewalk to allow you to have more seating at proper social distancing,” he said.

At Los Chicos Mexican Restaurant on Elm Street, the manager said they had to cancel their grand opening because of COVID-19. Now that dining is only open to 50 percent capacity, Matheny admits it’s still difficult trying to get back lost revenue. That’s where these permits come in.

“Some folks are nervous about coming back at 50 percent, they may be coming back at 30 percent, so you’ve lost 70 percent of your potential business,” Matheny said.

Los Chicos is an authentic Mexican restaurant located in the heart of downtown Greensboro. The manger, Ulysses Ruiz Sosa, said the restaurant relies on foot traffic to reel in people, especially during the summer months.

“If it was outdoors probably help them out and feel a little bit safer,” Ruiz Sosa said.

They’ve tried adding business by adding different items to their menu like “take and bake” items.

Even adding technology in which patrons can pay for their meals on their phones by using QR codes. They’re even giving dinners plastic silverware and Styrofoam cups to use.

For Los Chicos, they had just opened their doors in November and were finally starting to get some buzz.

“We were going to have our grand opening actually the same month that all this stuff happened. Now it’s been pushed back,” Ruiz Sosa said. “We’re not sure when. It will be.”

Matheny hopes permits are just the start of success for business owners who have lost so much.

“We’ve got an opportunity here to show the city how it can work, that it works successfully, and to create such a more vibrant community by allowing folks to dine outside,” he said.

Matheny said the Special Event Permits being used for patio expansion typically take a couple of days to get approved. For more information head over to the City of Greensboro’s website.

The City of Winston-Salem is also planning to expand dining in the streets of downtown.

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