With a new state order allowing Minnesota bars and restaurants to resume onsite dining in outdoor settings starting Monday, June 1, those local establishments that do not already have a patio or outdoor dining area were left scrambling — so they went to their city council for help, and received it.

At a special meeting of the Detroit Lakes City Council on Wednesday, May 27, temporary expansion and zoning permits were issued for 13 local businesses to add temporary outdoor dining areas to their existing space. Some will be using green space, some sidewalks or parking areas, and some will be adding picnic tables borrowed from the city.

All have been closed for seated dining since the middle of March, when Gov. Tim Walz's COVID-19 executive order went into effect.

The motion approved unanimously by the city council on Wednesday also included provisions allowing those restaurants to temporarily expand their on-sale liquor license to allow alcohol to be served in their outdoor dining areas, and to extend their charitable gaming (if applicable) into these areas as well.

The businesses that were granted these permits include:

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  • Brygge Taps & Tastes;
  • Chinese Dragon;
  • Don Pablo's Mexican Restaurant;
  • El Loro;
  • Holiday Inn;
  • Hub 41;
  • Jess-Omundson VFW Post 1676;
  • John Bridges American Legion Post 15;
  • La Barista;
  • Northside Bar & Cafe;
  • Roasted;
  • Sapphire;
  • and Shorty's Corner Cafe.

All of the permits will become effective on June 1, and expire on Oct. 31.

Businesses with existing patio or outdoor dining areas, such as Spitfire, Lakeside Tavern, Long Bridge, Sandbar II, Shorewood Pub, The Fireside and Zorbaz, did not require these permits, and were therefore not included in the motion.

Though Holiday Inn already has a patio area, it does not have a canopy, so a temporary permit was requested that would allow the restaurant to place tents in their parking lot area. City Attorney Charlie Ramstad said that this would be an allowable use, so long as the tents were set up canopy-style; side flaps would make them into enclosed structures.

The motion also included a provision that the permits were approved contingent upon the businesses adhering to all of Walz's executive orders, as well as state agency guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes guidelines that seating be restricted to no more than 50 diners at a time, that it cannot be in a completely enclosed area, that it must be roped off or fenced in some way, and that they take reservations to ensure that the restrictions are enforced, though no specific provision was made regarding whether those reservations be made by phone or onsite.

City Administrator Kelcey Klemm was given discretion under the council's motion to make minor adjustments to the permits as needed, such as location of tables, use of tents, etc., so long as the original intent of the council's action remained intact. Any requests that would fall outside the parameters of the permit, such as building a new patio, would need to be addressed at the council's next meeting on June 9, Klemm said.

The council also unanimously approved a motion waiving the $100 expansion permit fee for this summer only and, in a third motion, approved transient licenses for four more food trucks to operate within city limits this summer: Wood Fire Pizza, Spanky's Stone Hearth, Mini Donuts by Denise and M&M Enterprises (Kettle Corn).