SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — New outdoor seating is coming to The Breaks Coffee Roasting Co. in downtown Sioux Falls after being approved by the city council Tuesday night. The expansion is part of the parklet pilot program, and the basic idea is to allow approved businesses the opportunity to expand outdoor seating into on-street parking areas.
“What this pilot program is doing,” says Downtown Sioux Falls Inc. (DTSF) President Joe Batcheller, who helped with the project, “is going to create an outdoor dining space for people to enjoy their coffee. If things go well we may have an opportunity to do more of a formal program with parklets in the future.”
One positive aspect of this particular parklet is the fact that it really won’t be eating into much existing parking space. “It’s not even two parking spaces,” says Breaks co-owner Mary Campbell. “This is 15 minute parking right here, and a good chunk of this space is the approach to our driveway, so it’s not even functional as a parking spot, and then beyond that, you don’t have room for another parking spot before the driveway of the lofts next door. We’re not losing any paid parking.”
Campbell says that the parklet will practically double their seating capacity. Currently, the shop is permitted to allow sidewalk tables, but a five-foot lane must be kept clear to ensure ADA compliance. The new expansion will allow customers to spread out a bit more without having to worry about blocking the sidewalk.
The parklet itself will be constructed in part with the pallets on which the coffee beans for the shop are delivered.
“We’ve been saving our nicest pallets,” Campbell explains. “We get our green coffee beans in on wooden pallets — we’ve kind of looked into some different design options for making communal seating areas out of the pallets, like benches.”
Campbell says the current plan is to get the rules and expectations from the city in terms of how it needs to be built. “We didn’t want to get going on anything before we were approved.” Once those rules are in hand however, it seems the construction process will be quick to take off.
“I’ve had customers offer to come in with drills and hammers and whatnot tomorrow,” says Campbell. “Don’t be scared to come get and get coffee because we’re going to drag you into a construction project, but yeah, we’re going to rely on some creativity and also some muscle from some friends and community members.”
Despite the fact that the seating will be rolled out onto the street surface, customers need not worry about safety. “DTSF is supporting this by making planters available that we own on East 12th Street that can be moved into place to create that buffer between the people using the parklet and traffic,” says Batcheller.
Addressing concerns that the parklet program could cut down on already scarce parking spaces in certain areas of downtown, Batcheller offered reassurances.
“This would be most useful for businesses off of Phillips Avenue,” he says. “When we’re thinking about what a criteria might be for a [parklet] program, I think the time, place and manner in which parklets are set up is going to be a major component of it — I would think that Phillips Avenue is pretty well set with the public spaces that we do have. This is more of an opportunity to re-imagine some of the streets in downtown as new gathering spaces.”