The Office builds outdoor seating platform

THE PROPRIETORS of The Office Bar & Grill in downtown Madison started constructing a new bumpout platform on S. 1st St. this week that will provide outdoor customer seating for the business. The platform is expected to create added seating for about 10-18 persons.

The proprietors of The Office Bar & Grill in downtown Madison are adding a wooden platform in a street parking area on the south side of the building that will add more outdoor seating for customers.

City commissioners this week approvedf a right-of-way permit for the platform located on the corner of S.W. 1st St. and Egan Ave. The platform -- meant for summer use only -- is similar to a seating platform used by Sundog Coffee in Madison.

The proprietors of Sundog Coffee refer to their platform as a "bumpout," and they dismantled their platform last fall for the winter season.

In the permit application, Carson Stemper, Office Bar & Grill owner, had requested installing a 12x22-foot temporary platform with railings on its outer edge. Builders will install light caps on the railing and reflective tape on the corners. Stemper described the installation of three security cameras to record the platform and street.

In the application, Stemper had calculated that the platform would provide seating for 10-18 persons.

The staff at The Office Bar & Grill will have the responsibility of storage, assembly and disassembly of the outdoor platform.

Commissioner Bob Thill expressed concerns about the 12-foot width of the platform, the distance the platform would "stick out" into the street. Chad Comes, city engineer, said at 12 feet, the platform wouldn't occupy more space than a parked vehicle. Thill said the city should consider setting a uniform width for the platforms and mentioned 8- and 12-foot widths. Thill also asked about water drainage under the bumpout platform, along the street gutter to a storm-sewer inlet.

Chief Justin Meyer of the Madison Police Department was asked about the proposed platform's width. Meyer said he preferred a 10-foot width. Stemper agreed to the width change.

Thill proposed allowing a 10x22-foot platform as part of the right-of-way permit.

City officials also proposed that, if the proprietors of The Office Bar & Grill do not change any of the particular specifications of the bumpout platform, the finance office could deal with any annual renewals of the permit. If the specifications do change, the applications will need to come before the city commissioners.

The commissioners and mayor approved the permit with Commissioner Mike Waldner abstaining from the vote.

During a discussion about the city's repeal of COVID-19-related patron limits for Madison's restaurants, bars and casinos,  Eric Hortness, executive director of the Greater Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, said he expected two other businesses to set up outdoor seating for customers due to social-distancing guidelines.

While the city commissioners repealed 10-person inside and outside limits, city officials still expect restaurants and similar businesses to seat persons or different small groups 6 feet apart.