Parking spots turned into patio seating could remain after pandemic, St. Pete says

Abigail Compton works at Bavaro’s Pizza on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg and says if there’s one good thing to come from the last year, it’s their expanded patio seating onto parking spaces.

"We have gotten to the point where we need more people to work because we’ve gotten so much busier because of the patio," she said.  

As part of a program called Restart St. Pete, the city told restaurants they could use concrete barriers to separate traffic from parking spots converted into outdoor seating areas.

"Some businesses, they’ve taken advantage of it. Others have not because they didn’t want to lose the parking spaces," Mayor Rick Kriseman told FOX 13 Monday.  

Restart St. Pete barriers create extra outdoor seating for restaurants along Central Ave.

Kriseman says with the city’s COVID-19 emergency order eventually goes away, restaurants will no longer be able to do this, the city is looking at changing code to make it an option in the future.   

"It is something that certainly merits us looking at and having more discussions with the business community," he said.  

Before the pandemic, some wanted to turn parts of Central Ave into a pedestrian mall by 2050.

Lack of parking could be the snag, but Compton says the restaurant where she works has never been busier.

"It brings in more people. This is a smaller restaurant, so this gives us the opportunity to have more customers more guests come in to enjoy Bavaro’s," she said.