Traverse City DDA Looks to Expand Outdoor Seating for Restaurants

As the beautiful summer weather continues, many people are looking for ways to enjoy the outdoors.

That includes the time they spend at restaurants.

The Traverse City Downtown Development Authority says restaurants have been looking for ways to expand outdoor seating for years.

They’re hoping to do that with new platform cafes.

9&10’s Caroline Powers and photojournalist Harrison Light found out how it would work, and where the plans stand.               

Bubba’s is located right as you come into downtown Traverse City.

They’re in a busy location right across from the bay, but the one thing management says they’re missing is outdoor seating.

The Downtown Development Authority is working to change that.

People want to sit outside and eat. So I think it would be beneficial certainly for us but any restaurant in town to have a little extra seating,” says Ross Weddle, assistant manager at Bubba’s.

Platform cafes are popping up in cities across the state, and the Downtown Development Authority wants them in Traverse City.

“It just gives those restaurants who don’t have room some room to work with,” says Rob Bacigalupi, executive director of Traverse City Downtown Development Authority.

The DDA began looking at the idea about three years ago.

Since then, more restaurants have started voicing their interest.

“This is a main thoroughfare right here on Union Street so we need the visibility and we would just love to have that,” says Patsy Fekete, manager of Blue Heron Café 2. “We have the type of menu that is able to fit that type of café. Our sandwiches, salads and soups. Easy enough to be sitting outdoors and enjoying the sunshine day.”

Restaurants not in the 100 and 200 blocks of Front Street could put in an application to add platform cafes in one or two parking spaces in front of their business.

“We also want to limit the number just so that they aren’t popping up at a fast rate and gobbling up a lot of the street parking,” Bacigalupi says.

“More outdoor seating areas where you can dine would only enhance the Traverse City experience which would be good for everybody,” Weddle says.

The DDA says they’re hoping to approve the platform cafe recommendation next month so it will then go before city commissioners.