European style seating may be coming to downtown Medford

DOWNTOWN MEDFORD, Ore. — European style restaurant seating may soon be coming to the streets of downtown Medford.

The city is looking at allowing it to help local businesses reach full capacity.

“It’s what downtown Medford needs, I think we’re kind of behind in the time when it comes to outdoor seating,” said The Rogue Grape owner, Natasha Hopkins.

The Rogue Grape is on South Central Street.

“I was thinking if we put two tables on either side of the tree I could meet that requirement, and then it would be even better if I could use the parking spaces out here, because I could put some planter boxes with beautiful flowers and give people a safe place to have a few more tables,” Hopkins said.

She says before the pandemic, her restaurant would seat 45 people.

Right now, in accordance with phase 2 guidelines, she can only seat 28.

“I think it will totally change the landscape of downtown, as well,” said Hopkins.

The City of Medford is working on creating a permit to allow downtown businesses, not just restaurants, to use parking spots adjacent to their building.

Medford deputy city manager, Kelly Madding, is working to release the permit by the end of next week as a way to give businesses a boost.

“We recognize that with us going into phase 2, well, many things are opening up in a greater way, but there may be people reluctant to go inside,” said Madding.

The City of Grants Pass is doing something similar.

It’s going to put up concrete barriers around parking spaces adjacent to businesses.

“We’re at the city’s cost, going to pay for the placement and ultimately the removal when this program is over (and the rental of those barricades) so that this program is to no cost for the restaurants,” said Grants Pass city manager, Aaron Cubic.

Both cities say the outdoor seating will be temporary.

However, Madding says it could stick around in Medford, if it does well.

“If this is a success and people like it and want to use it, I think what we would want to do is fine tune it and it may need some code changes,” Madding said.

Businesses interested in the permit should visit the City of Medford’s website for updates.

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