Silver Spring, Rockville, Takoma Park close streets to allow for expanded outdoor seating

UPDATED: Silver Spring, Rockville, Takoma Park close streets to allow for expanded outdoor seating

Restaurants in county can serve outside only; limited indoor service allowed when opening expands

| Published:

Rockville started its outdoor seating program on June 5.

Photo from Marylou Berg

This story was updated at 5:15 p.m. June 12, 2020, to include information about Takoma Park and at 10:50 a.m. on June 15, 2020, to update time references

Downtown Silver Spring, Rockville and Takoma Park have closed select streets to add tables and chairs for outdoor dining as the coronavirus pandemic still keeps businesses from operating at full strength.

Montgomery County entered phase 1 of its reopening plan on June 1, which allows restaurants to serve customers outside. County Executive Marc Elrich has said the county plans to shift to phase 2 next week, which would allow restaurants to serve customers inside at a maximum of 50% capacity, but had not announced a specific day as of Monday morning.

The northbound right lanes of Georgia Avenue between Silver Spring and Thayer avenues closed Friday evening to allow additional outdoor seating, according to a press release from the county. The parking lane is being used as the “primary pedestrian flow” to accommodate seating on the sidewalk.

The Silver Spring outdoor seating, called “Streetdine,” is similar to Bethesda’s “Streetery,” which started this week. Tables and chairs were added to let restaurants provide seating nearby for customers. Indoor service  at 50% capacity will be allowed when the county moves to phase 2.

Streetdine will comply with social distancing rules. Some restaurants are providing table service and others are requiring customers to order takeout meals, then consume it at the tables, the press release stated.

Council Member Tom Hucker’s office worked with the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, the Silver Spring Regional Services Office and the Silver Spring Urban District to set up Streetdine.

Rockville also is closing streets to expand its outdoor dining in the downtown area. Its program started on June 5.

The city has closed Gibbs Street between East Middle Lane and Beall Avenue, as well as East Montgomery Avenue between Maryland Avenue and Helen Heneghan Way, to add seating, according to a press release from the city.

Marylou Berg, a spokeswoman for the city, wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat that each individual seating area is permitted for use by one specific establishment. Restaurants can apply for a permit on the city’s website at no charge. Berg wrote on Friday that 10 restaurants have been approved for a permit so far.

Berg wrote that the street closures are a partnership among the city, the county’s Alcohol Beverage Services department, nonprofits, property owners and individual businesses.

Also on Friday, Takoma Park closed the northbound side of Laurel Avenue for “outdoor seating, sales, and customer pick-up,” the city said.

The city posted on its website that “the side of Laurel Avenue where the businesses are located will be closed to allow for outdoor dining and enjoyment, curbside pickup and other public uses to assist Takoma Park’s businesses, employees, and residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

There are barriers and signs about the closure and a detour around the church, according to the city.

More information about the closures and a map of the affected streets is posted online.

Bethesda on Wednesday started a similar layout, closing off certain blocks each day to set up tables and chairs for patrons to use as they order from local restaurants.

Managing Editor Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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