PORTLAND — An Old Port restaurant and bar has submitted the first application for an outdoor dining “parklet” on a city street.

Andrew Volk, owner of Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, said he has longed for outdoor seating at the 75 Market St. restaurant, and hopes the new city program will make it possible.

Volk, who opened the bar and Scandinavian-inspired restaurant with his wife, Brianna, in 2013, said he tried to offer al-fresco dining the first year, but the narrow, 8-foot wide sidewalk facing Post Office Park was a problem.

“There is a lot of ins and outs when it comes to offering outdoor dining,” Volk said. “We tried to do stuff in the past, but because of the location of lamp posts and signs, it has been a headache.

If he is allowed to establish the parklet, Volk will install a small platform on the street, the size of one parking space, with room for 10-15 patrons.

The city’s Public Safety and Public Works Departments have already marked the parking spot. Jessica Hanscombe, the city’s licensing and registration coordinator, said all the necessary city departments, including health, parking and planning, have signed off on Volk’s application.

She said the City Council is expected to review the proposal June 17.

If he gains council approval, Volk will be able to operate the outdoor dining space until Nov. 15, assuming the dining area is built on a durable, non-slip platform and uses curbs or other elements to protect diners from Market Street traffic.

Hanscombe said she has fielded inquiries from other restaurant owners, but none have applied.

Volk said he hopes his restaurant, which seats up to 40 people indoors, will join the outdoor dining ranks soon.

“I am excited the city is looking at options to, through no fault of ours and no fault of the city’s, solve a problem in a fun and creative way,” he said.

The program, approved by the City Council on April 8, allows up to five spaces across the city to be re-purposed for outdoor dining. Restaurant owners must obtain a building permit, get City Council approval, and pay $5,520 – the amount an average parking spot downtown would generate from April 1-Nov. 15, when parklet dining is allowed.

Portland is one of the first communities in the state to offer such a program, but Volk said he has seen it work in other cities, including Montreal, Canada.

The parklet dining program was made possible by a state law passed last year that allows restaurant owners to offer food and drinks on municipally owned land that is not adjacent to their storefront, as long as they have municipal approval.

Previously, outdoor dining could only be offered in an area immediately adjacent to the business.

“The city is awesome for sitting outside in the summer months,” Volk said. “Any chance we can get to have our guests enjoying the sun and enjoy what we are doing is awesome.”

The idea of converting parking spaces for temporary reuse is not a new concept in the city. For the last several years, Portland has participated in PARK (ing) Day, an annual nationwide effort that, on the third Saturday of September, temporarily transforms parking spaces into small urban parks.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter:@mkelleynews

Andrew Volk points out the public parking spot on Market Street where he would like to operate an 8-by-12-foot parklet dining area for his Portland Hunt + Alpine Club restaurant.

Andrew Volk, owner of Portland Hunt + Alpine Club on Market Street, said a narrow and crowded sidewalk has prevented him from offering outdoor dining.


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