Patio restrictions dead for now as restaurants volunteer changes

City Council Member Meg Tuthill’s proposed restrictions for outdoor patios is dead for now, as restaurant owners in Uptown have volunteered to try a few other methods for curbing late night noise.

Tuthill had proposed cutting outdoor music at 10 p.m., requiring patio bars to serve wait staff, not customers, and enforcing stricter capacity limits. After backlash from her colleagues on the council, the Ward 10 councilwoman instead convened a taskforce of neighbors, city regulatory staff and restaurant owners to come up with solutions.

That group came up with a list of ideas for mitigating noise: a hush program that is already being used and reminds patrons they’re in a neighborhood and to keep their voices down; voluntarily reducing hours of amplified music; promoting the new parking facility at MoZaic and increased police patrols.

The plan also has a couple broader initiatives, such as increased management of outdoor patios and enhanced communications with patrons and neighborhoods.

“I have confidence that this is going to be a real positive move for our community,” Tuthill said.

The real test will come when warm weather hits and the school year ends, Tuthill said. Even though her patio ordinance is dead, she said she could still author a new one.

“If it doesn’t work, we’re going to have to look at other solutions, which I know will be issues the businesses and a lot of the community — not so much the community, but the people who come to Uptown — won’t be happy with,” she said. “But I’m going to take a positive note, and I’m going to count on this working.”

A few changes are already underway, which Tuthill says have already helped with noise issues. In addition to the hush program, the city has opened up several taxi stations that help get patrons out of Uptown at bar close, instead of having the patrons walk around when neighbors are trying to sleep.

Dan McElroy, president of Hospitality Minnesota, said the addition of MoZaic offers more parking for patrons to keep them off residential blocks. It also has provided price competition for Calhoun Square’s ramp.

Tuthill said the taskforce included Parasole Restaurant Holdings and Stella’s Fish Cafe representatives, who relayed information back to other Uptown restaurants. Stella’s and Parasole’s Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group boast two of the largest Uptown patios.