Gainesville restaurants may be operating outdoor a lot more in the near future

Published: May. 18, 2020 at 5:01 PM EDT
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Come this weekend in downtown Gainesville, the streets may be filled with people eating their dinners as opposed to parking their cars.

As part of Florida’s full phase one reopening plan, restaurants were allowed to open at 50% indoor capacity Monday. Owners are hopeful this will drop wait times and bring in more customers.

Jonathan Cassman, General Manager of Mojo Hogtown BBQ feels people were still afraid to come to restaurants when seating was 25%.

He says, "I know people were kind of afraid to go out with 25%, they were still doing a lot of takeout, which is perfectly fine with me, because they didn't want to wait or be too close to people. And now I think with 50%, people are like alright we don't have to wait, there is more space in there.”

The City of Gainesville is also trying to help restaurants as well by loosening restrictions on outdoor seating. They have also considered closing portions of the streets downtown to allow restaurants to set up tables.

But with parking already tight downtown, Cassman is worried closing all the parking down will deter customers.

He says, “Access to the restaurant could be the issue. People not wanting to deal with trying to find parking. Downtown parking is already pretty troublesome, so it’s kind of been a mixed bag of discussion between me and the owners and me and some of the other restaurants down here about, yes it could be good to have more tables out here but then parking becomes an issue.”

In order for restaurants to begin doing more outdoor seating, they must apply through the city. A link to that application can be found