BELLEVUE, Washington – The more frequent sunny days in the forecast mean summer is on the way, and so is increased opportunity for dining outdoors. Outdoor dining has been a key component to many restaurants continuing their operations under COVID-19 capacity restrictions. During 2020, the city worked to streamline permitting and identify creative spaces where businesses could safely expand their operating footprint and welcome more customers while staying within health and safety rules. This year, in partnership with the Bellevue Downtown Association and Microsoft, the program will again offer more outdoor dining options in downtown Bellevue and beyond.
The latest “Al Fresco” outdoor dining program runs now through the summer, promoting on-street, sidewalk, parking lot, and private property patios together as tools to support restaurants and increase vibrancy. In addition to the collective on-street expansion of space on Main Street, more than 40 other restaurants are participating across the city.
“It was encouraging to see the success and support of the outdoor dining program last year, both for local businesses and for patrons looking to enjoy Bellevue while safely dining and shopping,” said Mayor Lynne Robinson. “I’m really looking forward to taking part again this year and want to thank our community partners who are back to support this program as an important component of our return to full capacity.”
“As we transition to more normalcy in this pandemic recovery, the Al Fresco program will provide continued options for our businesses to serve as many customers as possible each step of the way,” added Mac Cummins, Director for the city’s Community Development department that is playing a key support role in re-launching the program.
The original, ten-week program that launched in August 2020 resulted in overwhelmingly positive feedback from restaurants and residents, giving organizers confidence it could again be effective and even expanded.
“After we saw the success of last year’s Al Fresco program, we’re excited to bring it back and promote even more participating businesses,” Patrick Bannon, president of the Bellevue Downtown Association, said. “This is a great way to support our local restaurants and retailers and enjoy the outdoors in Downtown Bellevue.”