Fairfax City offers grants for restaurants to winterize

Main Street dining is seen in Fairfax City. (Courtesy Fairfax City Economic Development Authority/Fairfax City)

Precious outdoor dining space will become less attractive to restaurant patrons with cold weather coming, but Fairfax, Virginia, is joining D.C. in offering to help restaurants make patios, sidewalks and other outdoor dining spaces cozier during the winter.

Fairfax City is allocating $300,000 for micro grants of $3,000 each for up to 100 local restaurants for things, such as heaters, tents, lighting, furniture and landscaping. It will begin taking online applications for the grants Oct. 9, and they will be awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis.

The city is drawing funds from its share of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities Act, in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

“We understand that colder weather will require our restaurant community to rethink some of their outdoor dining strategies,” said Fairfax City Mayor David Meyer.

“We want to ease that burden as much as possible for our restaurants by providing financial assistance to allow them to make needed accommodations to ensure outdoor dining can continue as long as possible.”

The District is offering similar grants of up to $6,000 for locally-owned and independent restaurants to winterize their outdoor dining spaces.

This summer, Fairfax City created City Square turning parts of Main Street and University Drive into an outdoor dining area for Old Town Fairfax restaurants.

As for restaurants throughout the Washington region not fortunate enough to have established patios or sidewalk dining, many have taken advantage of permits issued by various jurisdictions to carve out additional dining space from sidewalks or curbside street parking spaces.

With indoor dining capacity still limited throughout the area, that additional outdoor space was crucial this summer for many local restaurants to stay open.

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