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Westport Paves the Way for Pop-Up Cafes

WESTPORT, Conn. – More outdoor seating areas may be popping-up in downtown Westport this spring. On Wednesday, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a policy that allows the creation of pop-up cafes and pop-up seating along certain one-way streets.

This new policy will permit merchants along Main Street and other one-way roads to install on-street cafes or seating areas in converted curbside parking spaces outside their businesses. The policy was created by Planning and Zoning Commissioner Howard Lathrop and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Jennifer Johnson, with help from Assistant Town Attorney Gail Kelly.

“If you look at the policy, we wanted to make it broad enough not to exclude retail businesses from doing this,” said Johnson after the meeting. “This will actually allow both pop-up cafes and pop-up seating.”

This means retailers such as Pottery Barn could install a seating area outside its store where people could, for example, sit and eat lunch. Bobby Q’s could install a café outside its location, which would serve as an extension of the restaurant.

In addition to Main Street, other locations approved for pop-ups include Parker-Harding Plaza, Church Lane and Taylor Place. Designed on wooden platforms that are level with the sidewalk, the pop-ups will be allowed only on one side of the street and will be surrounded by barriers, such as planters.

Although the pop-up areas will be located on public roadways, they will be paid for by merchants — not the town. During the meeting, the selectmen recommended the policy include a provision that states the pop-up cafes be exclusively for use by customers of the parent business. The pop-up seating areas, however, will not be exclusive.

Under the policy, the hours of operation for the pop-ups will be 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 6:30 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays from April 1 through Nov. 1. No amplified music will be allowed, and no music will be allowed after 9 p.m. Merchants interested in installing pop-ups must apply for a permit.

“I think this is a great step in the right direction for Westport,” Kelly said after the meeting.

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