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  • By Lisa Brody

No bistros applications submitted for 2020

For the third October in a row, the city of Birmingham did not receive even a single application for a bistro liquor license for 2020.

The deadline to apply for one of two available bistro liquor licenses for 2020 was October 1, 2019. There will be a second opportunity for a 2020 license since there were no applicants, with the deadline April 1, 2020. For 2019, two applicants applied and came before the city commission for a 2019 bistro license, Pernoi, for the former Cafe Via location, and Brooklyn Pizza, which applied to expand into adjacent Birmingham Geek at 195 W. Maple Road. Both received commission approval to move forward to the planning board for full site plan and design review and special land use permit review.

Pernoi opened in August; Brooklyn Pizza will come before the Birmingham Planning Board for approvals on Wednesday, October 23.

Per the city's ordinance, which was created in 2007, only two bistro applications can be approved each calendar year. The bistro ordinance was developed as an economic development tool to invigorate the downtown streets, create walkability and vitality, and to enhance the retail component of the city.

The city's bistro ordinance was designed to create small and intimate establishments in the city's downtown and entice operators to create unique dining operations in Birmingham as an economic incentive to drive walkable traffic to the city's retail community. The ordinance permits no more than 65 interior seats, with no more than 10 of those at a bar, large windows that open out to the street, outdoor dining, and restaurants where food is the focus, not the bar.

The bistro ordinance has since been expanded to include the city's Rail and Triangle districts, and recent efforts updated and improved the ordinance, including limiting outdoor dining to 65 seats; deciding that outdoor patios cannot have year round enclosures; and determining that railings or planters on outdoor dining platforms cannot be any higher than 42-inches tall; and rooftop dining would be permitted as an outdoor use if surrounding properties are not negatively impacted.

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