Brr-fresco: Maine city OKs winter outdoor dining

AP News
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Posted: Dec 12, 2014 1:41 PM

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Fork? Check. Spoon? Yep. Parka? Good call.

The city of Bangor, the gateway to northern Maine and one of the coldest cities on the East Coast, has approved year-round outdoor dining.

"I've certainly enjoyed a hot cup of coffee outside, when it's sunny, it's winter and there's snow everywhere," said Caitlin Brook, Bangor's downtown coordinator. "There's really nothing better than that."

The average high temperature in January is 27 degrees.

The City Council on Monday approved a process for restaurants to get permits for dining spaces on city sidewalks and other outdoor public places. Brook said she anticipates most restaurant owners will wait until spring, but the option for winter dining is available.

One permit would allow alfresco dining from April to October while the other would run year-round, Brook said. Permits will be free in 2015 and fees will kick in the following year, she said.

Bangor, the farthest north of East Coast cities with a population of more than 30,000 people, has seen a resurgence of its West Market Square business area. Brook said the city could emulate the success cold weather cities such as Quebec City have had with winter outdoor dining.

The restaurants will be able to serve alcohol in the outdoor areas if they pay an added fee, opening the door for alfresco hot toddies and Irish coffee — as long as diners bundle up.