It’s not unusual to see full parking areas in front of the Backstop Bar & Grill in downtown Canby — though, it’s typically cars occupying those spaces.
This week, about a half-dozen spaces on Northwest 2nd Avenue were instead filled with tables, chairs and hungry patrons — a city-approved workaround intended to help the Backstop stay afloat during what turned out to be a mercifully brief ban on indoor dining.
“The Backstop Bar and Grill reached out to the city last week asking if we were able to temporarily accommodate additional seating in the parking stalls in front of his building on NW 2nd Avenue,” Canby Economic Development Director Jamie Stickel told The Canby Current Tuesday.
The Backstop’s owners and operators, Ken and Lori Arrigotti, asked if the city would approve expanded seating while Clackamas County is under the “extreme risk” category of the governor’s reopening framework, which allows only take-out and outdoor seating.
While a few restaurants, like Wayward Sandwiches, have been able to expand their outdoor seating with the use of large tents, most establishments are like the Backstop — with precious few options for adding tables outdoors without putting parking spaces on the chopping block.
“This is a topic the city had considered some time ago, particularly with the passage of our ‘Open Air Canby’ program, which allows for approved businesses to expand seating to private parking lots,” Stickel said. “We looked at neighboring cities and realized we could apply the public right-of-way encroachment permit to the expanded seating.”
At this time, only the Backstop has requested additional outdoor seating in parking stalls — and it may stay that way, with Governor Kate Brown saying Tuesday that she “expects” to not have to use the blunt instrument of restaurant shutdowns again through the remainder of the pandemic.
But Stickel said the city will work with any businesses that express interest.
“The Canby City Council and city administration have been very vocal about supporting Canby’s small businesses,” she said.
Councilor Greg Parker said he liked the concept for downtown Canby, and especially applauded the quick work by city staff to address a small-business owner’s request.
“When I was in Paris, I was impressed by this sort of thing,” he said. “Maybe we can call ourselves the Paris of the North Valley.”
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