Picky Coral Gables relaxes restrictions on outdoor dining

Coral Gables recently approved relaxing the standards for outdoor dining at restaurants. The idea was to help mitigate the loss in business caused by a rule that only allows 50 percent of capacity for indoor service. 

At Seasons 52, a wine bar and grill on Miracle Mile, manager Fernando Orms said that although a lot of restaurants have long had permits for outdoor seating, they’re now putting it to use more than ever. 

“When Miracle Mile expanded its sidewalks about two years ago, almost all the restaurants on this strip took out the permits for outdoor dining,” he said. “It wasn’t of much use until the pandemic hit because it’s usually very hot and humid in Miami but now everyone wants to be seated outside in fresh air.” 

Orms said the city is usually very particular about such changes. But he’s happy he is able to increase outdoor capacity. 

Beto DiCarlo, owner of Fratellino Ristorante, said the relaxed standard gives people like him more flexibility. 

“They’ve allowed us to remove certain restrictions we had before. Where now we can place outdoor seating up to the curb, before it used to be just up until there,” DiCarlo said, pointing at an area much closer to the restaurant door. 

The city commissioners unanimously agreed to the changes on May 26, which officials said gives them close to the same overall capacity – indoor and outdoor – as they had prior to the pandemic rules. The relaxed rules will expire next January. 

Yaima Ruesca, who eats at Ortanique on the Mile four to five times a month, said she likes it. 

“I think it’s very convenient being that these are times when everything is very uncertain even for businesses like restaurants,” she’s said. “Even though I may be seated outside I will still be enjoying my favorite foods and the restaurant will be able to keep serving their food to about as many people as they would before with this freedom.”