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Opening East Dubuque: Bars and restaurants go al fresco in order to serve their customers

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EAST DUBUQUE–As East Dubuque City Manager Loras Herrig worked on answers to frequently asked questions about the process of reopening bars and restaurants in his city, business owners began making plans to reopen.

But, the constant rain on Thursday, May 28, didn’t help much as business owners such as Mike Meyer of The Other Side who had to wait until that evening to begin the process of preparing to serve  customers the next day.

For Meyer, it was worth the effort.

On Friday afternoon he seemed quite pleased with things.

“We had a nice lunch. The amount of community support is tremendous. I think people were excited to sit down at a table and have a beverage and eat,” he noted.

Meyer is hoping for things to return to normal soon. “I’m not a scientist, but I don’t know if six people outside at a table is any different than six people inside,” he said.

Details for a limited opening of bars and restaurants in this community came to fruition during the Tuesday, May 26 East Dubuque City Council meeting where the council meshed state guidelines with local needs.

Beginning Friday, May 29, bars and restaurants can begin serving customers in a limited fashion outdoors.

The city is keeping Sinsinawa Avenue open, but is allowing businesses to place tables in parking areas along the street, but not on the sidewalks. Tables must be kept six feet apart.

“We want to figure a way for them (business owners) to make a buck. But, we don’t want anyone hurt and for the people to be safe,” Herrig noted.

The council ultimately approved outside consumption for all liquor license holders for one month upon receiving a formal application and proof of insurance. The council will formally review the status of this program at its June meeting and make any changes depending on state guidelines and local needs.

The opportunity to serve patrons outside comes with a series of do’s and don’ts. These include:

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•hours of operation: 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

•no open containers on the sidewalks.

•server must bring out the food and beverages.

•server must wear a mask.

•patrons can enter the building to use restroom facilities.

•seating can only be within on-street parking areas and not in the roadway.

•Businesses must keep their food/beverage service areas clean since the street sweeper won’t be able to clean in the parking areas.

For Herrig, his biggest “nightmare” is having tables and chairs next to vehicles operating along the roadway. Only a few months ago, he recalls, a drunk driver hit an East Dubuque squad car.

He admits, “There is no playbook for this sort of thing.”

Those bars which have beer gardens can also utilize this space and stay open there for as long as their business allows. Although the city’s liquor ordinance requires no outside sales after 2 a.m. The city is lifting that restriction for bars with 3:30 a.m. licenses.

The city also offered to print GIS maps for business owners so they know where and how best to set up their tables.

Herrig is also making sure that the police and anyone else who wants receives a copy of his frequently asked questions document.

This is an experiment, he says. He wants everyone to have the same information.

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