May 5, 2020 – October 10, 2020
The Dining on the Spot program, which provided expanded outdoor dining options when indoor seating was closed early March and April, was directly responsible for keeping Downtown West Palm Beach restaurants in business. The program assisted 45 businesses within 15 downtown blocks. In addition to creating a mechanism to continue serving customers, the DDA also provided funding for equipment rental and a branded signage program for restaurants participating in Dining on the Spot. The program’s inception and continued success can be attributed to West Palm Beach’s strong leadership, beyond what other cities in Palm Beach County have done, by facilitating interdepartmental partnerships over the past several years, measuring the impact of design interventions on the number of users and stationary activities, COVID-19 social distancing and through a playbook as a companion to the City’s outdoor dining ordinance to support the private sector’s efforts.
Based on input from restaurant owners the program had specific financial benefits: DOTS installations contributed to 25%-40% of sales throughout the duration of the program, with consistently high customer demand for the outdoor seats. This holds true even when indoor seating was allowed to resume at 100% capacity.
For businesses with very small interior spaces (123 Datura, The Blind Monk), DOTS was a lifeline that allowed them to remain open during COVID restrictions. Without the outdoor seating they would have closed their doors and may or may not have been able to reopen once restrictions were lifted.
The added benefit of outdoor seating visibility has contributed to greater customer interest as a result of more customer interest in general. It has also been a great marketing tool for businesses’ printed materials, website, social media, etc.