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Buffalo businesses get fast-track approval to repurpose outdoor space

Mayor Brown on Friday announced the first approvals under the city's Small Business Social Distancing Initiative.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — In very welcome news for both restaurant owners and patrons, Mayor Byron Brown announced Friday the first approvals for open air seating in Buffalo.

The OKs were given under the city's Small Business Social Distancing Initiative. The announcement was made outside of Belsito's restaurant on Hertel Avenue.

A task force was formed two weeks ago. It was chaired by Delaware District Councilmember Joel Feroleto and included restaurateurs, transportation advocates, marketing experts and City Hall staff. The goal was to find ways small businesses and restaurants could use open spaces such as sidewalks and private parking lots to create open air seating or retail space so proper social distancing could be observed once a business reopens.

“Our small business and restaurant community appreciated the speed with which the city set up this program and responded accordingly," the mayor said.

"My administration will continue to work with them as they find ways to reopen their businesses and provide their regular set of services in a manner that is financially viable, while also promoting the health and safety of their patrons and staff.”

Since June 1, the city has received 27 applications for use of open air spaces for seating. Others interested in applying can find a link to an online application here.

This past week, the Buffalo Common Council passed the required enabling legislation allowing the City to grant these approvals.

The legislation was sponsored by Feroleto, who said, “This legislation will help small businesses and their employees in the City of Buffalo. The food service industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and we want to help as they reopen.”

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