Visitors to the Rue de la Course coffee shop located at 1140 S Carrollton Ave. were greeted by a startling sight today. On the counter, the shop had put up a sign: “We will be losing our Outdoor Seating. The City is charging $350.00 per sidewalk table. We can’t afford it. Please call your councilperson.”
The $350 per-table charge is part of City Ordinance #27625, which was passed in late October 2017. The ordinance requires that businesses who use the public sidewalk for outdoor seating obtain a permit. In addition to the $50 application fee, the yearly permit requirements include:
“In the area bounded by the Mississippi River, Pland Aveneue, St. Claude Avenue, McShane Place, N. Rampart Street, Canal Street, S. Claiborne Avenue, Pontchartrain Expressway, St. Charles Avenue, Broadway Street, Maple Street, S. Carrollton Avenue, Oak Street, to the Mississippi River, inclusive of both sides of bounding streets: $350.00 per table (up to 4 seats), $100.00 per seat for tables seating more than 4 persons.”
Businesses in areas of the city outside the boundaries listed above are required to pay $200.00 per table seating up to four people, or $75.00 per seat for tables seating more than four people. These permits must be renewed each year.
According to the Ordinance, seating within the outdoor area cannot begin before 8:00 a.m. or end later than 10:00 p.m. The only exception to this are the areas bounded by the Mississippi River, the Pontchartrain Expressway, S. Claiborne Ave., and Canal Street. In these areas, seating may be open until 12:00 a.m.
In addition, the Sidewalk Use Permits are automatically suspended for the period two hours prior to, during, and two hours following Mardi Gras parades for any business located along a parade route. During these times, the outdoor seating must be removed.
According to employees at Rue de la Course, although the ordinance was passed over a year ago, the shop received their first notice regarding the ordinance six months ago. Yesterday, they received a second notice.
“A lot of people enjoy our outside seating,” one employee, going by the name Phillip, said. “To take that away would cause serious damage to our business.”
A second employee, who asked to remain anonymous, told Big Easy Magazine that in spite of the posted notice to customers, the shop plans to leave their seating in place “until the city comes to haul it away.”
Big Easy Magazine has reached out to Councilmember Joseph Giarrusso’s office for comment and will update this piece when a response is received.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.