POCATELLO — An Old Town Pocatello brewpub was quick to take advantage of a new streamlined process for downtown establishments that serve alcohol to create additional outdoor seating options.
The owners and management team of Off The Rails Brewing at 228 S. Main St. in Old Town Pocatello over the weekend constructed an approximate 140-square-foot parklet in front of its building, which is open and ready for customers to relax outside and enjoy the summer weather.
“There were five of us that put this thing together and it actually only took less than 24 hours to get it done,” said co-owner Steve Wright. “We wanted to jump on this as soon as possible and are very excited to offer our patrons some additional outdoor seating options.”
Stretching about 7 feet from the curb into Main Street and running approximately 20 feet along the sidewalk, the temporary parklet bolsters both bar-style seating along the railing facing the Off The Rails building as well as a few two-top tables.
The parklet is built of wood stained the same brick red as the exterior of Off the Rails and features corrugated metal siding along the lower quarter of the structure. In the last few days, Off The Rails crew members enclosed a majority of the parklet in woven fabric coverings to offer a little shade when the sun’s bearing down on top of guests, Wright said.
“We are beyond excited to see this come to fruition and are looking forward to additions like this improving the perception and offerings of the downtown area,” Wright added.
Justin Arias, general manager at Off the Rails, said working with the city engineering and planning departments to acquire the necessary permits and to receive guidance throughout the construction process has been a painless experience.
After the Pocatello City Council on July 2 approved a blanket open container waiver for the Downtown Business Improvement District, the only necessary permit businesses located within that area must acquire is a one from the city to establish seating in its owned right of ways, the sidewalk and the city streets.
“This is something that we wanted to do regardless of the open container waiver, but this streamlined process just made it that much easier for us,” Arias said. “It might have been something we looked at next summer if the waiver was not approved.”
In addition to acquiring the right of way use exception from the city, Businesses such as Off The Rails are required to inform the Alcohol Beverage Control Division of the Idaho State Police of any changes to their previously approved floor plans, or footprints, indicating where on the premises alcohol is being served.
The open container waiver will remain in effect until Oct. 31, at which point any installed parklets must be removed to allow Pocatello street department crews access to the right of way for snow removal. In future years, the plan is to allow outdoor seating on sidewalks and in parking spaces between April 1 and Oct. 31 each year.
Stephanie Palagi, executive director of Old Town Pocatello Inc., and several city departments worked in conjunction to accelerate implementing the new process.
“Off The Rails’ additional outdoor dining area is a wonderful new addition to our downtown neighborhood,” Palagi said in an email this week. “Stop by this week to enjoy a cold beverage and a delicious meal outside on the parklet.”
Arias described the parklet addition as being a big jump for the new establishment considering many restaurants and those in the food and beverage industry have been some of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s hopeful the parklet and its outdoor location will serve as another incentive for Pocatello area residents to patronize Off The Rails.
“We’re grateful for Stephanie for getting this pushed through with the city and we’d love to see these outdoor spaces grow in the downtown area,” Arias said. “Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, who knows what’s going to happen moving forward. This could be a great thing for Pocatello in providing additional outdoor seating where people can feel a little more comfortable dining out.”