Wausau businesses weigh in on parklets potential impacts

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 6:41 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - After being approved by the Wausau Capital Improvements and Street Maintenance Committee, parklets are one step closer to becoming a reality for Wausau restaurants.

But what are they? Simply, it’s an expansion for seating that stretches into the street.

“An extension of the outdoor cafe seating that’s level with the curb. That just goes out into a couple of parking spots,” Malarkey’s Co-owner Tyler Vogt said.

Parklets are a new idea for the Wausau area but are a common sight in other Wisconsin cities.

“This has been happening for years. This has been happening before the pandemic. We’re just lucky enough right now that the pandemic shined a light on outdoor dining and we can implement this in our city,” Wausau River District Executive Director Blake Opal-Wahoske said.

Outdoor dining was a crucial aspect for local restaurants during the summer of 2020 and will continue to be in 2021. The extra space will also allow more creativity for eateries.

“The extra space will allow us to bring in more revenue for our outdoor area. That allows us to hire some jazz bands and do some other stuff the city can take advantage of,” Vogt said.

The idea is gaining momentum with other restaurants. If it passes the Wausau Common Council, could be a popular idea.

“We have heard of a couple of restaurants that are interested in this. But of course, Tyler is nice enough to be the pilot program for downtown Wausau. So I think when you see this implemented in downtown Wausau we’ll see it pop up around the entire city,” Opal-Wahoske said.

Summer events and nice weather are sure to draw people to central Wisconsin. But innovative ideas like parklets could help keep people around.

“It just continues to make it more of a destination. People are continuing to want to walk in the area. It’ll help make it a more desirable place to be,” Vogt said.

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