June 20, 2013 10:52:52 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
The Columbus City Council has agreed to take under advisement a request to extend two-hour parking to two rows of spaces located in a lot behind the Front Door/Back Door restaurant on Main Street.
Restaurant owner Steve McLemore approached the council Tuesday night during their meeting to discuss concerns about a lack of accessibility for customers due to motorists leaving their vehicles parked in the lot for extended periods of time. This occurs on a regular basis, McLemore said, and means fewer diners at his restaurant.
The absence of a parking time limit in the lot allows motorists to leave their cars parked in the lot for as long as they choose, he said. The city currently enforces a two-hour parking rule on Main Street and Fifth Street.
"I watch these parking places and I see the same cars parked in these spaces. They sit there for days at a time and never move," McLemore told the council. "My restaurant has a pretty loyal following that has been coming to the restaurant for 12, 13 years. A lot of these customers are older people. When I speak with other people about the parking problem back there, I'm told walking is part of the downtown Columbus experience. It's not for a 75-year-old lady who wants to come eat at my restaurant but has to park over there in front of Huck's Place, the TV station or J. Broussard's and walk on a walker or using a cane. These people need to be a little closer to the restaurant."
McLemore said the restaurant also lost a net eight parking places behind his restaurant due to recent sidewalk and landscape improvements to Fourth Street, commonly known as Catfish Alley.
McLemore said the entire lot behind his restaurant does not need two-hour parking enforcement because employees of Main Street businesses need some of those spots. He suggested the two rows closest to the back of the building be considered to be brought into the two-hour parking area. That includes approximately 25 spaces, he said.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.