Restaurant gets law changed

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; A new city law makes it possible to serve food and beverages on sidewalks outside restaurants.

Passed by the board of aldermen Tuesday, the ordinance amendment provides for a one-year permit to operate a sidewalk extension of an establishment.

As long as people are eating outdoors, the establishment must serve food, according to the ordinance. Restaurants will not be able to serve on the sidewalks past 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends.

Email newsletter signup

Any amplified music, such as live bands, means doors and windows have to be closed. Restaurants can play music through outside speakers as long as the music cannot be heard 100 feet away.

Bowie&8217;s Tavern and Restaurant was the establishment that initiated the ordinance, City Attorney Walter Brown said Thursday.

&8220;They came to us and said they wanted to utilize the sidewalk,&8221; Brown said. &8220;It was not well-traveled and wouldn&8217;t be an impediment.&8221;

The area Bowie&8217;s will use as an outdoor eating area faces Canal Street. Bowie&8217;s installed the broad brick sidewalk where customers will dine, Manager John Holyoak said.

He said no more than 16 people would eat outside.

&8220;The sidewalk is 8 feet wide,&8221; he said, &8220;so you will still have 6 feet of passage.&8221;

Holyoak said he wanted an area where customers could sit outside and enjoy good weather.

&8220;They can enjoy the river ambiance of the bluff, sit outside and watch the sunset, he said.

The ordinance is a result of a compromise between the city and Bowie&8217;s, Holyoak said. The city suggested food be served along with alcohol, and the restaurant suggested the noise ordinance be altered to allow outside speakers.

Although the city worked with Bowie&8217;s to figure out what was needed, the ordinance was not meant to single out Bowie&8217;s, Holyoak said.

&8220;By no means was it designed for Bowie&8217;s Tavern,&8221; he said. &8220;Walter Brown drew up the ordinance so it was good for the whole city.&8221;

Thom Miller, owner and manager of King&8217;s Tavern, said he thought except for the mosquitoes and heat, outside dining and drinking was a good idea.

&8220;New Orleans and Paris and Denver have places where people sit outside (to eat),&8221; Miller said Thursday. &8220;I think it has a wonderful look to it.&8221;

Brown said like any new ordinance, this one would need some adjusting.

&8220;It&8217;ll take some tweaking for a while to get things just right,&8221; Brown said. &8220;It&8217;s an experimental piece of legislation.&8221;

The ordinance also amends the city&8217;s open container and noise ordinances, allowing for drinking and louder noises on special occasions like Mardi Gras parades that were already accepted but not in an ordinance.