EATING out could have a very literal meaning this summer if Limerick Chamber succeeds in persuading the City and Council Council to support its concept of outdoor dining.
The Chamber has been in contact with the council about transforming the dining experience in the city and county towns to support local hospitality businesses.
Chamber chief executive Dee Ryan said that the reduction in seating available for indoor dining because of Covid restrictions had dramatically impacted on revenue and made trading very difficult.
“The council responded to that last year by making some parklets available and running animations for businesses and we are asking that those initiatives be expanded this summer,” she explained.
“Even in the best-case scenario, social distancing is going to be part of our summer so it’s essential we help restaurant and cafes bring their business out onto the streets, serve more customers than they would otherwise be able to and stay trading.
“One of key things we are discussing with the council is the introduction of a simplified process for expressions of interest for requisitioning parking spaces directly outside of premises for table and chairs.
“Parklets are preferable but we’d also like to see a simplified option for businesses with funds being made available for windbreakers and planting to enhance the customer experience and above all, temporary measures being put in to ensure the spaces set aside are safe for use.”
Ms Ryan said the council has confirmed that the waiver fee offered last year to businesses who availed of outdoor spaces will also apply in 2021. Traders must still apply to get the licence for outdoor table and chairs but the fees will be waived.
“This is very important as it means that the local authority is making the option available and doing so free of charge. I am informed that Council officials are engaging with Failte Ireland to access new funding in support of animation for visitor experience of Limerick.
“We have also asked the council to look at greening urban spaces with trees, hedging or flowers so that this year, of all years, Limerick stands out.’
Commending the Council on the outdoor lighting along the riverfront, Ms Ryan continued: “It has been a really difficult time for the tourism and hospitality sector, so it is essential we do the maximum possible to support a summer reopening for residents and visitors.
“It is going to be an outdoor summer by necessity and the Chamber is committed to supporting the Limerick hospitality sector to make the best of the months ahead,” Ms Ryan concluded.