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Outdoor Dining a Possiblity in Keokuk

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Jason Parrott
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Keokuk's downtown district could soon be home to a popular aspect of "big-city living."

You have just one option when you visit a restaurant in downtown Keokuk: dining inside the restaurant.

Main Street Keokuk is working to convince the Keokuk City Council to change that.

Executive Director Joyce Glasscock said her organization is gathering outdoor dining regulations from various cities to come up with a proposal for the city council.

She said her goal is for the process to be finished this fall so outdoor dining could be added next spring.

Glasscock said outdoor dining would require more than just setting some chairs and tables along the side of a building.  She said the dining areas would need to be asthetically pleasing.

"You want to have a defined area," said Glasscock.  "You want to enclose it with fencing or greens or whatever the city deems appropriate and you want to be able to consume beverages."

She said people want ambiance, which is why heavy traffic in cities like Chicago and Seattle does not hurt the popularity of outdoor dining.

She said the benefits even go beyond just helping the participating restaurants.

"It attracts people, not just local people, but people from a greater distance when they come in and have more choices," Glasscock said.  "It is just attractive.  It will increase traffic for the restaurants and it will increase shopping."

She said Main Street Keokuk has been talking about outdoor dining for years, but the idea picked up steam when Dr. Getwell's opened at the corner of 11th & Main Streets.

"The sidewalks are so wide and (Doug Matlick) has the perfect opportunity along the side of S. 11th Street, not Main Street," Glasscock said.  "We encouraged him to think about outdoor dining."

At least three businesses have expressed an interest in outdoor dining.

The Keokuk City Council has briefly discussed the idea with general support being shown to this point.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.