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Tucson Restaurants Expand Outdoor Dining With 'Streateries'

Prior to the pandemic, restaurants operated on razor-thin profit margins, so maximizing the profitability of every table, chair and square foot of the business space is key to keeping an operation afloat.

The challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic have forced traditional business models to accommodate social distancing while maintaining the maximum dining capacity. One of the solutions is the “streatery.”

The idea is a mashup of the sidewalk cafe and the street fair. Restaurants work with cities to build out seating into the street, using the parking spaces adjacent to the sidewalk. It brings diners outdoors into a more communal setting while allowing the restaurants to erect barriers to create both privacy and sanitary dining conditions.

The city of Tucson has been extremely supportive of the concept. The City Council created a program that enabled eateries expand outdoor seating. Mayor Regina Romero announcing last week that it will be extended for 18 months.

The Show spoke with Emily Yetman, executive director of Living Streets Alliance in Tucson, about streateries, and began the conversation by asking her to describe how they’re different from traditional street cafes.

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