Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale get more room to spread out

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The signs are in place on Northeast 33rd Street, the quaint little strip in Fort Lauderdale's North Beach area.

Every day in the evenings, cars will be redirected and not allowed so the street is pedestrian friendly, so that more dining can take place and so there’s more room for social distancing.

Between A1A and 33rd Street and Northeast 33rd Avenue, seven days a week between 4:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. the next day, the street will be off limits to traffic.

For Lauderdale road closure gives more room for restaurants to add seating. (WPLG)

City leaders and businesses want to expand outdoor seating for dining and for folks who want to take a stroll.

Chuck Davis is one of the managers at Fishtales Restaurant, a place people know because it has been in business in this neighborhood for 14 years. Because of social distancing, they had to cut their capacity in half. Inside it seats 60, that means they can only have 30 customers, so closing the street helps.

“That way we can spread out and we can serve a lot more people," Davis said. “The landlord didn’t reduce the rent, public services didn’t reduce the electric. We got our bills to pay no matter what.”

At Fishtales, Davis said they are ready. Even outside, however, social distancing guidelines remain in place.

And you will have to wear a mask, which can be removed while you are dining.

Fort Lauderdale’s City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said: "We haven’t seen a rush back to restaurants this week even though we have been open. So, providing this opportunity to feel safer doing it, hopefully that will bring people out and cause these restaurants to start to come back to life.”

Las Olas is also doing something similar, but only on weekends. A single lane will be closed on the boulevard from Southeast 6th Avenue to 11th Avenue.

This allows for tables on sidewalks and people can walk on the sidewalk and onto the closed lanes.

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About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.