Café seating brewing controversy?

Restaurants may clash over plans to build outdoor dining downtown

A concept proposed by the Tres Hombres restaurant to construct outdoor seating has caught on with several other business owners.

At the Chico City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday evening (May 18), it became clear that at least four other downtown restaurants are now interested in expanding city sidewalks to accommodate outdoor café seating. Doing so would take widening city sidewalks, requiring the loss of parking spaces.

That’s a bit controversial in itself. Still, most everyone seemed to love the idea. In fact, by a unanimous vote, the council agreed to move forward with plans to amend the municipal code to allow for alcohol sales on certain public rights-of-way. Other interested businesses include Café Coda, Burgers & Brew, Celestino’s and Christian Michael’s.

Problem is, the city is looking for just a limited trial that would allow just one conversion per city block and only at the corners. That would make it impossible, for now, for both Tres Hombres and Celestino’s to move forward. This inequity didn’t set well with some folks, including Councilman Tom Nickell.

“I think everyone should get a piece of this pie, not just the select few on corners,” he said.

His thought was just a portion of the direction council members gave to staff for the creation of code revision that would allow for the improvements.