By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Before the coronavirus pandemic, Coconut Grove was well-known for its outdoor and shaded dining locations.

But when the onsite dining restrictions came down, those restaurants struggled to survive.

Many were forced to get creative and with the help of the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District (BID) they are now welcoming back their guests.

“If you take a drive or a walk through Coconut Grove you will see that our outdoor dining is full,” said Abigael Mahony, with the Coconut Grove BID.

That is no coincidence. The Coconut Grove BID worked with the City of Miami and came up with a pilot program to expand outdoor dining.

“This allowed us to close the right of way for additional sidewalk seating, so we closed Fuller Street with permission of the county and the city,” said Mahony.

The Coconut Grove BID is geared to promote business in the historic section of Miami. Funded in part by levies on local businesses, they have been busy during the pandemic with a number of challenges, especially when it came to restaurants.

“We have placed colorful hot pink tables with umbrellas in the right of way. This allows for safe dining outside and allows restaurants on Fuller Street have outdoor dining when, based on the regulations, they were not allowed to do that,” said Mahony.

With the new outdoor permit and indoor seating capacity at 50 percent, some restaurants in the Grove have the opportunity to come close to 100 percent capacity. This is a godsend for the restaurants in these tough times.

“We have also taken over some parking spaces along Commodore and Florida Avenues, so we have a concept called ‘Commodore and Chill’,” said Mahony.

To enhance the safety of the new outdoor dining spaces, the BID has sponsored the maintenance of the traffic safety barricades, which are very important due to the heavy Grove traffic.

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