OUTDOOR DINING: Sarah Malthouse, Katrina Wade and Melinda Davies at Toast Espresso enjoying the outdoor dining option.
OUTDOOR DINING: Sarah Malthouse, Katrina Wade and Melinda Davies at Toast Espresso enjoying the outdoor dining option. Jarrard Potter

Outdoor dining a winner for businesses

TWENTY years ago, Toast owner Judy Hackett remembers attending a Community Economic Development seminar which focused on ways to enhance foot traffic and trading in CBD areas such as Prince St.

The top recommendation to come from that seminar was opening up the streets to outdoor dining and trading.

"It was identified that would be the number one thing that would help build a town, through outside seating and dining areas and cafe areas on the street,” Ms Hackett said.

"That would be one way of enhancing a town, but then it never happened. I think it was considered too hard to be out on the street.”

Toast is one of the businesses in Grafton's Prince St that trades on the footpath with an outdoor dining area, and Ms Hackett said it was a benefit to their business.

"People like to chase the sun and I think it's something people expect to see,” she said.

"In the city it's seen as a normal every-day occurrence but in Grafton it's still a bit of a strategic decision.

"We're lucky that we've got a blistered area that Clarence Valley Council has helped make a safe area, and we're really happy with how it's working.

"It would be great to have a town that has an al fresco feel and is interesting to look at, that's not so much car driven.”

At the other end of Prince St, I Scream has also embraced the outdoor dining trend, and owner Jeff Smith said he is a fan of increased flexibility from council in regards to trading on the footpath.

"I'd like to see a lot of flexibility there, and eventually it would be great to have space on the street to have shade sails and space for music and buskers, it would create a total atmosphere,” Mr Smith said.

"Council should be more flexible in regards to change, because things are changing fast. Grafton will be changed by the new bridge and the highway bypass so it's important we look at how we address these changes and how we adapt.

"With the bypass we have got to start to reinvent the town and look at how we can get visitors off the highway and part of that I think is being more flexible with the on street trading.”

Mr Smith said the outdoor dining was an attraction for I Scream.

"The outside dining definitely adds to the whole look of the store,” he said.

"We've got some of the best weather in the world here, so why not make the most of it?”



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