Frustration for some as Center City utility work forces 'streeteries' to come down

A meeting between the city and restaurant owners is scheduled for Monday where both sides are expected to hash out more details.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Some Center City Philadelphia businesses are dealing with an unexpected setback as Restaurant Week kicks off.

Utility and road work has forced "streeteries" along 13th Street to come down.

Businesses used "streeteries" to pivot during the pandemic, but the city warned restaurant operators that utility work was always a possibility.

"It's hard to lose that space for guests who still wanted to have the ambiance," said David Montague, operations manager for Center City restaurants Bar Bombon and Charlie was a Sinner.

In a letter sent to restaurateurs a month ago, the initial deadline called for the "streeteries" to be removed by January 10. But after pressure from some owners, the deadline was extended to January 20.

SEE ALSO: What you need to know about Philly's vaccine indoor dining requirement
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Those looking to dine indoors will now need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in Philadelphia.



Fergus Carey, the Midtown Village Merchants Association board president, said it does not appear the city is making it easy for operators to rebuild the structures.

"We were told, 'Well, you can't put them back until you get all the proper permits this time, not the emergency permits," said Carey. "It looks like they're not coming back. I would bet on them not coming back."

Montague added that rebuilding some of these elaborate structures may not be an option due to cost and city code preventing them from being built in bike lines.

"I don't know that we're in a position to put them back up," Montague added.

Some who enjoyed the settings are sad to see them go.

"It's great for families; a lot of people who don't feel comfortable eating inside still have the option," said diner Sarah Bonkowski.

Others are more motivated to see the options to avoid the city's mandates.

"I'm glad they give us the option of eating outside because my vaccination status is none of their business," said tourist Rebekah Smalley.

Construction work is expected to be completed by the summer.

A Zoom meeting between the city and restaurant owners is scheduled for Monday where both sides are expected to hash out more details.
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