Anchorage businesses moving outside for more space

Published: Jun. 27, 2020 at 10:03 PM AKDT
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Businesses around Anchorage are beginning to expand their operations outside of their buildings. Recent decisions by the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which were mirrored in an emergency order from the Municipality of Anchorage, have relaxed restrictions on layouts for businesses for liquor licenses. That’s part of what has led to the creation of what the Downtown Partnership is calling “Open Streets Anchorage.” ADP worked with the Municipality to close off portions of F and G street so that businesses like Crush Wine Bistro can expand into the street.

“This really could be a game-changer as far as getting people out and coming down to dine and feeling safe,” said Robert DeLucia, general manager at Crush.

DeLucia said ADP had been working for months to set up the program, and its executive director, Amanda Moser,said they testified before the ABC Board as part of the effort.

“I talked about maybe trying to take over some of the parking lot of some patio seating on the sidewalk,” DeLucia said. “And she said ‘well what if we just talk to the city about potentially shutting down the street in front of the restaurant’ and my eyes got big.”

He added that the extra space and flowing air makes the environment safer, which in turns helps his customers feel safer, not to mention it dramatically increases the amount of people they can serve.

“That pretty much doubles what we can do,” he said.

Over in midtown, Moose’s Tooth is trying something similar with a large, open greenhouse. While the recent changes from the ACB Board don’t hurt, Moose’s Tooth Customer Service Manager Megan McBride said they’d been working on getting the greenhouse set up for many months.

“We had to go through an extensive permitting process, both for alcohol licenses, and then also for safety and fire inspections, things like that,” she said.

The end result is similar though: extra space, better ventilation, and a great view in good weather. All of those add up to make the seats a popular choice.

“You can’t ask for better seating on a sunny day like today,” she said. “And we’ve been graced with that sort of weather for the past eight weeks.”

According to the ADP, open streets Anchorage is currently set to go through August 31, but DeLucia said he hopes these temporary regulations may lay the foundation for what becomes a more permanent system.

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