Al fresco all over: more Main Street restaurants plan dining decks | ParkRecord.com

Al fresco all over: more Main Street restaurants plan dining decks

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

More restaurants indicated this week they want to build sidewalk dining decks on Main Street, a trend that could further reshape the look of the street as the eateries bid to attract customers with an option for al fresco dining.

City Hall said there had not been additional applications filed by midmorning Friday, but restaurateurs said in interviews they were preparing plans for their own decks.

They would follow after the debut of the first two, built on the street outside the Stephen McComb-owned Cisero’s and Bistro 412. McComb anticipated opening the Bistro 412 deck for lunch on Friday while the Cisero’s deck was slated for a dinnertime opening on Friday.

Francisco Astorga, a City Hall planner who is handling the applications, said in an interview earlier in the week five additional restaurants had been interested in building their own platforms.

In interviews, representatives from Shabu and Red Banjo said they intend to build decks soon. Each of them wants their decks opened by early July, in time for what is traditionally the busiest stretch of the summer.

"We have always wanted to have a street-level presence," said Shabu owner Kevin Valaika, whose restaurant is in the Main Street Mall.

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Valaika, who is also the president of the Park City Area Restaurant Association, said he plans to situate the Shabu deck underneath the restaurant’s outdoor dining area on the second floor. He hopes it is ready shortly after Independence Day.

Valaika said the dining deck on Main Street should help the lunch business "immensely." He said offering more outdoor seating is important as the restaurants try to attract diners who would otherwise pick somewhere off of Main Street that has decks.

"We pride ourselves on our mountains and the beauty of our historic district," he said.

Valaika said business on Main Street has become more seasonal over the years and the dining decks could boost business in what are normally down times.

"We’re in the entertainment business in Old Town, and we need to entertain guests," he said.

At Red Banjo, Tana Toly Ireland, whose family owns the pizza shop, said she hopes the restaurant’s new deck opens by July 1, depending on City Hall permitting. The restaurant already has a deck on the third floor with seating for 16 people outside.

"We lose business when we’re not able to have people sit outside," Toly Ireland said.

McComb pressed the issue late in May, building the decks outside of his two restaurants even as City Hall indicated he had not received the proper permits to do so. The decks caused a stir in Park City, with people stopping by to look at them as they were being built and painted.

In an interview on Friday, a few hours before the planned openings, McComb said he built the decks in an attempt to remain competitive with restaurants that have seating outside. He said he has seen Cisero’s essentially empty while places with outdoor seats were bustling.

"I had only one table in my restaurant yet some decks were almost full," McComb said, adding, "I certainly want to be outside after the winter we had."

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