The City of Little Rock has announced an initiative that allows restaurants that want to temporarily expand their outdoor dining availability due to the coronavirus pandemic to do so.
In a news conference Friday, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said the city should give restaurants a greater flexibility on where they can place tables for outdoor dining.
"So what that basically means is this dine-out initiative is the allowance of more tables at restaurants’ parking lots, sidewalks and lawns in a very socially-distant way," Scott said.
According to Scott, the application process for this initiative, available to restaurants, bars and clubs, will begin on Tuesday.
Jamie Collins, planning and development director for the city, elaborated on the new initiative saying there are a few things the city will be checking for on applications.
"What we’re looking for is primarily the area that you’re looking to use for dine-out services and we want to look for safety. Safety not only for the patrons, but also for the employees for access, and looking for ADA access. And also where the vehicles are going to be coming from, and also if anything happens, emergency access that comes through there," Collins said.
In addition to establishing the initiative, Collins said the city also wanted the process of applying for it to be simple and streamlined. He said the turnaround period for applications should be no longer than three days. However, if alcohol sales are involved, the timeline will longer, as the city must forward those applications to the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.
The city also launched its second round of accepting applications for loans through the Small Business Emergency Assistance Program. Small business in Little Rock affected by the coronavirus can apply for a zero-interest, forgivable loan of up to $5,000. For this second round, the city has around $300,000 to loan. Applications can be found on Little Rock’s website.