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Some Maine cities offer restaurants and retail stores to use outdoor spaces

Bangor, Portland and Rockland are either closing streets, creating 'parklets', or allowing businesses to set up some tables outdoors for dine-in service or shopping.

MAINE, Maine — For some cities across the state, the future of dining, and maybe even shopping, could be soon found in parking spaces.

Bangor, Rockland, and Portland are cities that have found different ways to let small business owners set spaces for outdoor dine-in and retail.

This past Wednesday, city councilors from the City of Bangor approved restaurants and retail stores in Bangor to apply for permits to have "parklets" or sidewalk use. Code Enforcement officers from the City of Bangor will process the application and determine where to best allow business for them to have free outdoor space for dine-in services or shopping.

The original idea to completely shut down streets was frowned upon by many business owners in downtown Bangor, as many thought, this could potentially harm their current business if shutting down some streets.

"Having that pick up space is important so I'd be concerned about removing the 15-minute pick-up spots," said Emily  Daub, the manager Fork & Spoon, a downtown Bangor eatery. 

Fork & Spoon will now apply to add seats on their already set up outdoor tables. They hope the outdoor tables option can give their business a boost.

Credit: City of Bangor

Another restaurant, Pompeii Pizza, is considering adding outdoor tables. The restaurant owner says they're not ready to re-open on June 1.

Business owners hope the temporary 'parklets' will create more interest for people to get out of the house and safely have a meal outdoors or be able to shop without entering a store.

"So we thought down the road we could have some sort of take-out with picnic tables," said Susan Stephenson, the owner of Pepino's Mexican Restaurant in Bangor.

Credit: NCM

Down the road, because Pepino's Mexican Restaurant is located on a hill, the reason why they wouldn't be able to add outdoor seating, and they still want to have the take-out option. So instead, Stephenson has decided to use the green grass area down the road from her restaurant to set up some picnic tables and allow customers to have Mexican food there.

"Potentially share it with other businesses that are around us, other breweries and other restaurants..really just thinking outside the box, sharing space, and have the opportunity to have outdoor eating," said Stephenson.

Rockland will close off Main Street for Friday and Saturday, starting:

"On June 19 and 20, and we are going to do it for two weekends," said Thomas Luttrell, the Rockland City Manager. 

The partial closure plan is set up only for two weekends to test it out first.

"And then go back to the city council to propose closing Main street for the months of July and August on the weekends for full time," said Luttrell.

Any establishment, retail shop, or restaurant on Main Street qualifies for outdoor business those two weekends.

Rockland Main Street Closures:

  • Friday, June 19th and June 26 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 20th and June 27 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The City of Portland will close some streets starting on June first for retail stores and restaurants to be able to offer outdoor services if they'd like.

The streets that will be closed are: 

  • Dana
  • Exchange 
  • Milk
  •  Warf Street
  • Middle Street will have some partial closures too.
Credit: NCM

"The temporary permits will be from June 1st to November 1st, some streets will be full closures others will be part of the street, right now we have 43 businesses that have received approval," said Jessica Grondin, the spokesperson for the City of Portland.

These Portland temporary permits are good from June 1 to November 1.

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