8 Madison patios and “streateries” set up for outdoor dining

Restaurants expand seating options while operating capacity is at 50%
Temporary patio at Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery
Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery

It’s been a few months since restaurant-goers have been able to sit down and enjoy a meal in one of the city’s many eateries. For restaurant owners and customers alike, “dining out” during the COVID-19 era has been illustrated by curbside pickup, takeout and mobile app delivery. But Madison sidewalks are slowly coming back to life by offering outdoor seating spaces.

In an effort to provide aid to recovering businesses, the city of Madison created the “Streatery” Restaurant Recovery Program, which temporarily allows restaurants to expand outdoor dining onto the public sidewalks, on-street parking areas or in privately owned parking lots through an administrative approval process. The goal is to enable restaurants to expand their capacity while administering physical distancing guidelines, not to create gathering or social spaces for larger crowds or events. There will be more than 50 new outdoor cafes throughout the city that will be open until the end of October.

“Our new Madison Streatery Program is a direct response to requests from neighborhoods and small businesses to create new opportunities for outdoor dining, placemaking and physical distancing,” says Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “I am excited to open up these new spaces for seating so we can enjoy summer with great food and support the local businesses that make our city so special — all while maintaining good practices to prevent community spread of COVID-19. The sustainability of our small business community is important, and this is just one way the city can help.”

The Streatery Program is a temporary service that will expire on October 25, 2020 or whatever date that Public Health Madison & Dane County decides. To read more about the Streatery Restaurant Recovery Program, click here.

Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery is one of the many local restaurants taking advantage of this opportunity to expand temporarily into an outdoor dining space. The parking lot of the café was redone at the beginning of June to prepare for outdoor seating, and there will be 16 outdoor tables for service this Father’s Day weekend.

Temporary patio at Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery

Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery

Patrick Sweeney, co-owner of Brothers Three Bar & Grill, has had plans in the works to open up a permanent outdoor dining patio since April, before the Streatery Program came into effect at the end of May. The blueprints propose a space that has the capacity for 40 people, with nine tables – including one large communal table – in total. Until the project is finished, Brothers Three has a temporary patio set up for customers who wish to dine outside.

Rendering of Brothers 3 patio

Brad Nellis with Distillery Design

South Pinckney Street, which is home to a handful of popular area restaurants, is a designated Café Zone under the Streatery Program. Lucille and Merchant, both co-owned by Sweeney, were among the restaurants included in plans for a full street café approved last week. The design, which was put together by OPN Architects, will provide physically distanced seating for around 50 tables for restaurants on South Pinckney Street, including Merchant, Lucille, Ancora Coffee, Marigold Kitchen, Settle Down Tavern and Johnny Delmonico’s Steakhouse. Fencing for the outdoor space, which is a mandatory installation from the City of Madison, is being donated by Tim Quigley from Quigley Decks.

Rendering of S. Pinckney Streatery

Brad Nellis with Distillery Design

To Sweeney, moving toward this new dining model is an ongoing conversation that is vital to the health of downtown Madison and to all of the people that call it home. The idea of a “streatery” is not the same as a big beer garden, he says, but a controlled, safe, professional and enjoyable way for people to get together.

“My hope is that we do this right the first time, so that our community as a whole can take a closer look at better utilizing outdoor spaces seasonally,” Sweeney says.

Hannah Twietmeyer is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.