Gahanna City Council approves more outdoor seating for Stadium

MARLA K. KUHLMAN
mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

Gahanna residents can expect to have more room to socially distance while enjoying their food and favorite beverage on an expanded patio at Stadium, 101 Mill St.

Gahanna City Council on Aug. 17 approved legislation for a temporary expansion of outdoor seating onto city-owned land for Stadium.

Mayor Laurie Jadwin said the state of Ohio's response to helping businesses cope with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is to allow restaurants and dining establishments to temporarily expand outdoor seating areas to accommodate social-distancing requirements, provided that approval for the proposed expansion is given by the local legislative authority and local public-health department.

"We had a request from Stadium to expand temporarily their outdoor seating pursuant to that law," Jadwin said.

After discussing the issue with Gahanna city attorney Ray Mularski, the word "temporary" is key, she said.

Jadwin said the temporary expansion would immediately cease upon termination of Ohio's Responsible RestartOhio Specific Operating Requirements for restaurants, unless otherwise mandated by Gahanna City Council.

Jamie Leeseberg, council president, said given social distancing and similar requirements, he is in favor of the temporary expanded outdoor seating.

Merisa Bowers, council member, suggested terminating the temporary expansion on a specific date and making it subject to renewal as opposed to something that is indefinite and tied to the state.

Jadwin said council could pick a date, but the motivation is to drive foot traffic to places operating under restrictions as a result of the pandemic.

"I'm excited about Stadium and want their success," Bowers said. "I want to make sure we're giving clarity. I just want to make sure expectations are clear."

Karen Angelou, another council member, asked if other restaurants have made the same request.

"We would like all our restaurants to be healthy and make sure people could come there," she said. "We also have a (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area) going on (soon). I have no problem with this. It says temporary expansion, so it won't go on and on and on. Let's hope the virus is gone and we won't have these problems."

Jadwin said the city hasn't received a formal request from any other business.

The majority of council was not in favor of tying the expansion to a specific date.

"The language says council has the authority to rescind at any time," said Brian Larick, council member. "We clearly have the ability to rescind."

On Aug. 18, James Dawson, founder and co-owner of Stadium, said he and his partner, Darnell Ferguson, who is executive chef, are excited about the approval.

He said the temporary expanded outdoor seating will accommodate 16 patrons, with 6 feet of social distancing, adding to 20 outdoor seats for a total of 36 seats.

Dawson said there is room inside with social distancing for 90 seats, which is about 40% less than normal.

"We have converted some of the game room into seating to create up to 90 seats indoors," he said.

Dawson said Stadium is ordering additional tables and seats with rush delivery.

He is hoping to have the additional seating available by September.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla