TULSA, Okla. — New structures are popping up around downtown Tulsa.
They're called "parklets." They're patios that allow restaurants to expand outdoor seating to on-street parking spaces.
The parklets are crucial to restaurants that are seating a limited amount of customers due to social distancing rules.
Bohemian Pizza is one of the latest to put one in.
“Our patio is 60, 70 percent of our capacity," said Patrick Johnson, co-owner of Bohemian Pizza. "So, without it, you know, we’re just a tiny little restaurant. So, we need our patio.”
The additional outdoor seating is thanks to the city of Tulsa’s “Parklet Program." It makes it easier for restaurants to obtain a permit to expand their outdoor dining.
That extra space is needed as concerns are raised about the safety of indoor dining amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s important for these types of structures and outdoor accommodations to exist to help our businesses stay afloat right now," said Brian Kurtz, executive director of Tulsa Downtown Coordinating Council.
Businesses are responsible for getting the permit as well as the design, construction and cost of the parklet. Through Tulsa County CARES funding, the Downtown Coordinating Council received the Get Your Business Outside grant to reimburse restaurants for these funds. DCC approved and allocated about $375,000 for the parklets. However, without another stimulus package, that grant is ending at the end of the month. Restaurants can still apply for a parklet permit, but they won't get reimbursed after the grant money after November.
“We hope that this would be able to continue with a future federal relief package," Kurtz said. "We know that our local representatives know that our businesses are in dire need of additional support.”
The extra outdoor seating is just in time for colder weather. Something Johnson isn’t too worried about.
“People are out there, you know, 40 degrees sometimes," Johnson said. "And so we have heaters, we keep it pretty warm.”
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