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Over 100 Madison restaurants join city “Streatery” program

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 12:52 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -More Madison businesses are taking advantage of the city’s “Streatery” program to expand seating and generate more revenue.

City officials said over 100 businesses recently applied for a permit to join the program.

The city extended the program to mid-April of next year.

Since its start in 2020, the city of Madison’s Streatery program allowed businesses to expand seating to sidewalks, parking lots and streets with a permit.

Now city staff is doing community outreach to see what a permanent program would look like. The goal is to help businesses get back on their feet.

Customers like Brandon Boyd said dining outside is in.

“We’re kind of desperate for it. We don’t care where we sit. We just want to be outside,” Boyd said. “Just needing to get out the house and spend time with each other, and spending time in nature to re-energize and reconnect.”

Lucille’s is one of many Madison restaurants replacing parked cars with tables and chairs.

“It’s really an exciting thing. The Streatery is what is making us survive right now,” Charly Rowe, Lucille’s General Manager said. “Keeping our businesses viable and people being able to be at their own comfort level.”

Lucille’s management said reservations for outdoor seating are pouring in, which is beefing up business and capacity.

“It’s so great to see people come together in these spaces that were invisible and filled with cars,” Johnny Mathews, Lucille’s Assistant General Manager said.

Meghan Blake-Horst is the Madison street vending coordinator. She said businesses all over the city are applying for sidewalk permits to get approval for the program.

“The goal of this whole thing was to keep businesses alive so they can thrive in the future,” Blake-Horst said. “This is going to take years for people to come out of the struggles and the staffing challenges that they faced overcoming covid.”

She said the program is spicing up the food scene.

“Its changed the landscape of Madison a little bit. It’s so much more open, free and fun,” Mathews said.

Another effort to support businesses is a pop-up shop initiative on State Street allowing owners to operate out of vacant storefronts. Madison city officials approved the proposal last week aiming to support entrepreneurs of color.

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