Bacon & Eggs set to scrap popular outdoor dining area in February, but not without a fight | Business
The outdoor dining area across the street from Bacon & Eggs at 57 E. Main St. is set to be removed Feb. 1, but not without a fight from its owners.
Like many businesses in downtown Walla Walla, Bacon & Eggs co-owners Michelle Giannunzio and Michelle Adams felt the heat in the summer of 2020 as the onset of the pandemic upended the restaurant industry.
That’s when the city of Walla Walla extended a lifeline: a temporary pilot project to build outdoor “streatries” that would provide businesses with additional seating and, in turn, bolster incomes and jobs, at a when most indoor dining was restricted.
Bacon & Eggs was one of 11 restaurants selected, receiving $15,000 in federal coronavirus funds to help pay for an outdoor structure that would turn several of the street parking spaces in front of the business into a dining hall for next three years.
Other Walla Walla businesses that have received funding to build streeeries include the following:
- Winger Birdz + Brewz
- Walla Walla Bread Co.
- Walla Walla Pasta Factory
- Brewery Oven
- Maple counter
- Public house 124
- red monkey
After building the now popular “parklet”, another name often used for this type of construction, the lively breakfast expected to be able to enjoy the benefits of the restaurant solution until at least 2023. In early December 2021, a stipulation in the program proved otherwise.
The couple received a letter from their building manager, Greg Flowers, on behalf of their landlord, Michael J. Corliss, requesting that the structure be removed.
“When we visited the street last summer, I told you that as long as the COVID-19 restrictions for indoor dining were in place, I was fine with keeping the street going for the short term, but that was not part of my long-term vision for Main Street or the property,” reads the letter dated December 15.
“You’ve been able to take advantage of the extra outdoor seating during the summer and fall, however, with restrictions lifted since late June and wintry weather here, it’s time to start getting back to some semblance of normality. “
While the couple knew Corliss was not in favor of the parklet, they said attempts to reach him to discuss the issue went unheeded until the letter was received.
He was unavailable for immediate comment at UB before press time, and Flowers had no comment, he said.
Dining in the street: a saving grace
The pilot program was hastily put together as an emergency measure during a massive spike in COVID-19 cases, and the streeeries were quickly erected in the summer and fall of 2020.
In April 2021, the Walla Walla City Council clarified that because parklets were not being built on city property but on city rights-of-way and private property, businesses must obtain consent from the building or the owner before January 1, 2022, to keep them in place.
Walla Walla strategies can stay – with new guidelines
Giannunzio and Adams said they could now lose an important source of income and continued employment for their workers as the omicron variant spreads rapidly in Walla Walla County.
“The parklet was a saving grace. It gives people a great option to sit outside and feel safe, and it also creates income,” Giannunzio said. “Over the past few years, the price of everything we buy has gone up due to the supply chain and the issues at the meat factories.
“I know people point out the fact that we didn’t have it before, but everything has changed.”
She says she plans to ask the city council for permission to keep the parklet until the end of the grant period, calling Corliss’ decision short-sighted. Giannunzio said Bacon & Eggs is the only building being asked to remove its street, even though Corliss owns several downtown commercial properties.
“We threw out the word discrimination because it’s the only one to be removed, and we’re two women and we’re married,” Giannunzio said.
Deputy city manager Elizabeth Chamberlain said she sympathized with the company, but the city had limited ability to intervene.
“We initially put the strategies in place in response to the COVID emergency, and moved forward to deal with the situation we all found ourselves in. We have always been clear that this is a pilot program, and that it is temporary until it is put in place permanently. place,” said Chamberlain, who says the city is evaluating the program to determine the fate of parklets at the end of 2023.
Since the city does not own the street in front of the property, the building owner controls his right of way, except for transit trips.
Giannunzio and Adams plan to attend the next city council meeting on January 26 and are calling on the community via social media to speak out during the public comment period and support them.