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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

October 7, 2008 at 11:45 AM

Sidewalk seating: long may it reign!

Just in time for the rain and cold, here’s some happy news about sidewalk seating: Seattle restaurants should soon see more of it. “Holy Mackerel!” said Jim Drohman when I called this morning with the news that Seattle City Council has passed legislation lowering sidewalk-permit costs from $2,300 to $600. What’s more, I told him, they’ve added a (much truncated) 10-day timeline to review permit applications.

“Having gone though the process twice over the old system, this sounds like a breath of fresh air,” said the owner of two of my favorite outdoor-seating sites, Le Pichet and Cafe Presse. “I really believe that sidewalk cafes add to the vitality and the energy of a neighborhood. I know my clients love them. They make a great advertisement for your restaurant, and they attract people in. I think that’s all for the good — especially at this time, when I hear some restaurants are stuggling.”

When it comes to sidewalk seats, Drohman said he adores the outdoors. And not only because the additional tables add additional income to his restaurants’ bottom line. (When the weather complies, the sidewalk seats at Pichet and Presse fast become some of the most coveted real estate in the business.) His sidewalks’ popularity notwithstanding, Drohman notes that Seattleites prefer seating that’s covered, or cloistered — places like the Post Alley-post outside Cafe Campagne and the charming courtyard adjacent its fussier sibling:

“Some of my favorites are never crowded,” he said, “because they’re too close to street noise.” Asked to name names, he doesn’t hesitate. “I love the one in front of Assaggio; the outdoor seating at the Pioneer Square Saloon and that great one in front of the Alexis Hotel — with all those period buildings down there.” He also thinks the outdoor seating at Joe Bar — across from Harvard Exit — “is one of the most charming spots in Seattle.”

Well, now that I’ve heard about Drohman’s top sidewalk spots, what say you about yours?

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