The parameter of the parklet dining space is marked outside Portland Hunt + Alpine on Market Street in the city’s Old Port. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

PORTLAND — With summer fading fast, the city has yet to see outdoor dining offered through the parklet program approved in April.

But one local restaurant owner still hopes to take the leap to the street.

Andrew Volk, co-owner of Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, got the City Council’s blessing in June to use a public parking space for al fresco dining in a parking spot outside the restaurant at 75 Market St. More than two months later, the parklet still hasn’t been built, but will be soon, Volk said this week.

“It will get built this year,” he said Aug. 26. “Summer has been busy for us, but that is the only thing holding it up.”

Portland Hunt + Alpine will likely be the only restaurant with parklet dining in 2019. City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau said he hopes more restaurants take advantage of the program next year.

“I think the program is still absolutely viable, but it is just a decision every business has to make. I would expect that given it is already August, not many will take advantage of it this year,” Thibodeau, a proponent of the program and chairman of the council’s economic development committee, said.

The program is designed to allow restaurants that don’t have sufficient sidewalk space to instead create outdoor dining in a nearby public parking space. The pilot program allows up to five parking spaces across the city to be used from April 1-Nov. 15.

Andrew Volk still hopes to have his restaurant be the first to offer parklet dining this summer. File photo

Volk in June said he looked to the program as the only way his restaurant can offer outdoor dining.

He and his wife opened the bar and Scandinavian-inspired restaurant in 2013. He said he tried to offer outdoor seating the first year, but that was problematic because the narrow sidewalk outside his restaurant includes a parking sign, a mailbox and a street lamp.

“We are looking forward to rolling it out, especially for the locals. My favorite time for outdoor dining is September and October,” Volk said this week.

Had the council put the program in place sooner, Thibodeau said, there may have been more interest.

In order to get a parklet permit, a restaurant owner must pay $5,520 – the revenue an average parking space generates for the city during the 8 1/2-month period  – and have plans filed with the business licensing department and approved by the City Council. The dining area must be on a platform built of durable, slip-resistant materials and have wheelstops to protect it from motor vehicles. The platform must remain for the entire outdoor dining season, but be removed at its conclusion.

Parklet dining is rare in Maine, is common in other parts of the country. The dining program was made possible here through 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.

Aside from Volk, City Communications Director Jessica Grondin said no other restaurants have submitted a parklet dining program application.

Thibodeau said that could change next spring when restaurant owners look to take advantage of the program for the entirety of the 2020 outdoor dining season.

Blyth & Burrows, at 25 Exchange St., may be among that group. Joshua Miranda, the restaurant’s owner, told the Portland Press Herald in June that he might be interested in applying for a parklet permit, but was waiting until 2020 because he is opening a new restaurant at 34 Wharf. St. this fall.

“I feel that it would add to the ambiance of the Old Port,” he told the paper. “I’ve seen some good ones.”


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