By Ryan Hill

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — There’s not a lot of dining room chatter at restaurants in Midtown Sacramento anymore, but there’s some talk about what could happen once these restaurants can reopen during stage 2.

“If we’re going to have limited expansion inside the restaurant, the ideas about expanding to the outdoor space is fantastic because it allows us to spread the restaurant out and still maybe be at 50 or 75% capacity,” Chris Jarosz, owner of Broderick Midtown, said.

Jarosz may get his wish. City officials and business groups are working on outdoor seating guidelines for pending re-openings in Sacramento.

“The idea is to expand out into patios, expand out into the street where you have much bigger ability to do six feet apart tables,” Mike Testa, president and CEO of Visit Sacramento, said.

Officials said that there could be expansions into parking lots and into sidewalks while still allowing walking and biking space.

Visit Sacramento told CBS13 that plan is to have the Midtown and Downtown areas be the pilot area for the outdoor seating re-opening with hopes of expanding it throughout the City of Sacramento.

CBS13 is also digging deeper into what this means for safety at the restaurants. What are the risks with people walking by and how do you protect diners sitting outside?

READ: Placer County Gets Green Light To Move Forward With Reopening, Businesses Say It Comes ‘Just In Time’

That’s still being worked out and needs approval from county and state health officials.

“When that permission is granted, it will come with conditions. It will come with a requirement that any set up, outdoors, indoors, have appropriate physical distancing. It may or may not come with a mask requirement,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.

Some restaurants are eager to re-open and have customers again. Although, there are some issues with outdoor seating adjustments for places like The Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar.

“What we have here everything is kind of bolted down and cemented. But we do have a back patio,” Al Marquez, the general manager of Red Rabbit, said. “If there’s a way to incorporate that into our outdoor seating, it is covered, but if we can use that space and have that count, that’d be huge for us.”

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These outside seating changes can help restaurants make up for the losses they’ll see with chairs inside the place.

“We’re not paying 25 or 50% rent. We’re not paying 25 to 50% to a supplier,” Jarosz said. “Restaurants run on really slim margins and we can’t make it up on running just half the show.”

Sacramento City Councilmember Steve Hansen said that there will be a permitting process for expansions into the parking lots or sidewalks. Publicly-owned areas will require a permit and have to meet the pending guidelines.

“We’re going to have a way to first channel that effort first through the business district because we would like them to help us manage the volume,” Hansen said. “But, basically, we’ll have guidelines for how to do it, you’ll get permission and then we’ll make sure you’ve done it safely.”

If a restaurant’s expansion areas are already privately owned and permitted, they will not require a permit and still need to fit the guidelines.

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