PINEHURST — The Village of Pinehurst’s proposed outdoor street dining ban will be subject to review some time in March. The ban, which is slated to take effect on April 1, would prevent restaurants from using adjacent property for outdoor seating.
Expanded outdoor dining has been a rare area of bipartisan agreement between Republican legislative leaders and the Democratic governor, with outdoor options first executed via executive order from Roy Cooper and later codified into state law.
A discussion during the Village Council’s Jan. 11 work session outlined three options for outdoor street dining.
Jeff Batton, Assistant Village Manager of Operations, said during the work session that the statute passed by the General Assembly allowed local jurisdictions to decide when, or if, to stop the practice.
Citing that there were three businesses that used street dining, and one of them has since closed, the staff recommendation was to end outdoor street dining on April 1.
The decision affected Drum & Quill and Dugan’s Pub. Drum & Quill is owned by former Village of Pinehurst council member Kevin Drum, who was defeated by current council members Jeff Morgan and Patrick Pizzella in last November’s election.
Batton’s presentation also cited “fairness” as a reason to end the practice.
“Under current conditions, ABC on-premise permittees may use the adjacent public street to conduct businesses while other retail shops may not. In addition, some restaurants, like Lisi, Villagio, and Villager Deli have selected locations and invested in spaces in order to have outdoor seating options without relying on public space,” said Batton.
He continued, saying that the manner in which on-street space is used for food and beverage service must be both highly visible for safety and meet the aesthetic expectations of the community.
Mayor John Strickland then asked why it was fair to allow restaurants to use space in front of their store, but not retailers.
That comment drew no response from the other council members and it was agreed to by consensus to end the outdoor street dining.
The addition of outdoor dining options has helped businesses stay alive as over 110,000 restaurants have closed nationwide since 2020, according to the National Restaurant Association.
A December 2021 WRAL story says that outdoor dining has been critical to helping establishments survive and adapt to consumer demands.
As an example, in the winter, many restaurants across the state added heaters, fire pits, and other measures to keep outdoor dining an option in cold weather.
In the subsequent Village meeting, attention from the council shifted to short-term rentals and designated customer parking.
Both issues were scheduled for the Feb. 8 work session.