Outdoor dining boost for Kilkenny’s hospitality sector

European model: Outdoor socialising will last long after the Covid pandemic has passed

Sian Moloughney

Reporter:

Sian Moloughney

Email:

sian.moloughney@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny Kilkenny

Outdoor seating at the Market Yard in Kilkenny

Restaurants, cafés and other hospitality businesses in Kilkenny are being encouraged to apply for new grants of up to €4,000 to install outdoor dining facilities.


The Fáilte Ireland backed Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme will ‘transform outdoor spaces across Kilkenny into welcoming, vibrant places that will help support economic recovery.’
Kilkenny Chamber is encouraging qualifying businesses to apply for the grant of up to €4,000 to cover the costs of outdoor tables, chairs, umbrellas, electric heaters, screens or windbreaks, plant stands and wooden platforms.


“The provision of outdoor seating and dining areas has been particularly successful and it is very encouraging to hear that the Government will now provide funding for more of this,” said John Hurley, Chief Executive of the Chamber .


“The concept of outdoor dining is likely to continue well after the pandemic is over and now is the time for businesses and the Government to invest appropriately to maximise the potential benefits for the future.
“Businesses, especially those in the hospitality and retail sectors, have been hit very hard by the effects of the pandemic and they will need every assistance and device possible to help them rebuild after the economy reopens.


“With Kilkenny’s enviable selection of restaurants and cafes and the wonderful vista of its quaint streets and quirky streetscapes, every opportunity for the provision of outdoor seating areas should be explored,” he added. “These newly created outdoor dining experiences will not only benefit locals, but will also be attractive to domestic and overseas visitors when the sector reopens.”


Deputy John Paul Phelan echoed the sentiment, noting how new areas of outdoor seating in towns and villages around the county are proving hugely popular with locals and act as a safe outdoor, socially distant meeting space, while many more streets in the city and county would really benefit from such investment.


“Developing outdoor dining and socialising spaces will help to improve the vibrancy of our towns across Kilkenny and bring them more in line with the European model,” said Deputy Phelan. “Anyone who visits our larger towns and villages as well as Kilkenny streets such as Patrick’s Street, Kieran’s Street and more will see how much outdoor dining facilities add to the ambiance.”


There are two strands to the scheme - one for businesses to apply for grants and a second for the local authority to develop outdoor spaces.
Kilkenny Chamber has already had a number of conversations with the Local Authority about availing of the €200,000 funding from Failte Ireland to upgrade and weatherproof public dining spaces and the space at the Market Yard would be ideal for such a project, according to CEO John Hurley.

Part 1: Outdoor Seating and Accessories
Open to individual tourism and hospitality businesses including hotels, cafes, restaurants and attractions where food is sold for consumption on the premises.  Local authorities will administer the scheme and all applicants will be required to comply with planning codes, legislative and other compliance requirements.


This Scheme aims to expand on the work done in 2020 by local authorities in supporting businesses and will support individual independent hospitality and tourism businesses towards the cost of equipment to provide additional outdoor seating and facilitate these businesses to increase their outdoor dining capacity for the summer of 2021.


Applicants can apply for a grant of up to €4,000 (up to 75% of the ex-VAT cost of equipment purchased/ installed). Costs for outdoor tables, chairs,  umbrellas,  electric heaters,  screens/ windbreaks,  plant stands  and  wooden  platforms will be covered under the Scheme.    Expenditure must be incurred between April 1 2020 and September 30 2021. The scheme will open for applications on April 12 through local authority websites.

Part 2: Weatherproofing & Outdoor Dining Infrastructure
This  will support local authorities  to upgrade and enhance streets and public spaces and implement weather-proofing solutions which will facilitate year-round outdoor dining in urban tourism centres. 
This  element of the  scheme will  facilitate medium to large scale, weather-proofed dining areas for a collective of businesses in a single zone/ street,  similar to  those that exist in various European cities. 

Each Local Authority can apply for up to €200,000 for a maximum of two locations. Permanent robust and design appropriate weatherproofing  structures,  including parasols, electric heaters, wind breakers/ screens  and associated works to accommodate these interventions on a long-term basis will be included.  Roof structures and awnings will be considered subject to planning requirements being adhered to.  


Key is that these remedial works will increase the outdoor dining capacity within our cities and towns, whilst also ensuring the safety of diners and pedestrians.