Plans in the works to install outdoor dining decks and expand sidewalks in Georgetown

Changes could be coming to outdoor dining in Georgetown. The Georgetown Business Improvement District wants to expand sidewalks and install decking along M Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

It’s all to draw in more customers and make up for lost business during the pandemic.

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The BID wants to widen sidewalks as much as 14 feet and install about 5,000 linear feet, or about one mile, of the sidewalk deck. Right now, three restaurants have prototypes of the deck already in place but the goal is for dozens of restaurants to have access to the extended sidewalks.

"It’s been nice. This leveled out patio has helped a lot. Before we had like hard covers but tables were tilting and stuff so this is nice," Niko Smith, manager of Thunder Burger, said.

Thunder Burger on M Street, is one of the restaurants with the prototype. Smith said the deck helped save the business most recently when indoor dining was closed.

"For the three weeks that we were shut down the patio was really popular. It was filled up every day, happy hour, express lunch, all of that," Smith said.

Smith says the deck and sidewalk expansions will likely help restaurant owners make up for all the business lost this past year.

"Even if we go back up to 100% capacity then hopefully we can keep this because it will increase our floor plan like crazy and it will also help a lot with recovery. We had a slow a year obviously, so I think it will help us a lot to have this extra capacity whether it’s outside or inside," Smith added.

The entire project would cost about 1.4 million dollars. The BID would pay for most of it and the city would pay the rest. The Advisory Neighborhood Commission for Georgetown unanimously approved the project. However, it does still need approval from DDOT and the Old Georgetown Board. Once that approval is given, the BID hopes to have the decking extension installed by the end of April. The goal is to keep the decks and extended sidewalk until at least through 2021 or longer if needed.

FOX 5 asked about parking concerns. Smith said he hasn’t noticed any issues with parking so far but he’s hoping it doesn’t cause too much of an issue.

"I hope what they do for business kind of off sets what they do for cars and pedestrians. I think once Georgetown goes back to its former glory, like streets filled every day, I think that will be a more pressing concern but for now I haven’t noticed an effect on the parking or anything," Smith said.