City offers permit for outdoor dining

Paige M. TravisFood

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon announced the “Temporary Use of Outdoor Seating for Restaurant Dining” permit today as a way to support local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This temporary permit will give restaurants a chance to increase capacity and offer additional outdoor space to customers.

Kincannon noted that restaurants took a huge financial hit this spring. “My hope is that more open-air dining options will help businesses stay open. This move could also go a long way in helping both employees and customers feel safe as more people return to dining out.”

The expansion permits are available to restaurants across the city of Knoxville and can be for both public and private outdoor spaces including but not limited to:

  • Private parking lots
  • Public parking spaces
  • Underutilized public and private property

Several business owners have expressed interest in this idea, including Tomato Head co-owner Mahasti Vafaie, who plans to apply for a permit for additional space.

“This is another creative solution that could really help right now,” Vafaie said. “The wellbeing and viability of our staff, customers and community continues to be a top priority. This will help us continue to serve everyone’s needs, as well as add to the charm of our beautiful downtown.”

All applicants must secure written agreement from surrounding businesses, residents or property owners affected by the proposed expansion. Those granted a permit must also take measures to protect surrounding development, traffic patterns, safety issues and the environment.

Applications are available here.

Paige Travis is a public information specialist for the city of Knoxville.


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