Dick O’ Dow’s approved for facade updates
By Kevin Elliott
The Birmingham City Commission on Monday, October 4, gave final approval for seating updates at popular downtown pub and restaurant Dick O’ Dow’s, 160 W. Maple.
Commissioners praised Dick O’Dow’s owner Mitch Black for previous renovations and efforts to activate the Willits Alley by adding a second outdoor patio in 2020. Black had received special approval for expanded dining during both the reconstruction of Maple Road and when the city temporarily expanded outdoor dining options during the pandemic.
Birmingham City Planner Nick Dupuis said Black would like to gain permanent approval for the rear dining patio, as well as incorporate a new facade at the front of the building along Maple Road. Plans include installing sliding nano walls that will open the front of the building to the sidewalk.
The new front space will contain five tables and 20 chairs, with the existing entrance moved inside the existing vestibule area. The plans and a special land use permit were recommended for approval in August by the Birmingham Planning Board.
Commissioners raised questions about tables and furnishings adjacent to the sliding wall, specifically, what could be done to ensure tables and chairs wouldn't be moved to the sidewalk and in the public right-of-way.
“Do the tables stay outside during the winter or is there a 12-foot setback to the front of the building?” commissioner Stuart Sherman questioned.
“It’s never been done before, so we aren’t sure,” Black responded. “The expectation is that (open) dining would be used year-round, but on cold, snowy days that may not work. We think because it’s heated, it will be year-round. That’s the idea, but it will be the patrons’ choice.”
Sherman then questioned whether there would be markings or a barrier to stop furnishings from migrating out of the permitted space.
Commissioner Rackeline Hoff supported the idea, noting that other establishments with outdoor dining also provide such barriers.
“We have experienced encroachment on the sidewalk at other locations, and the proprietor may not be aware that customers move them around,” Hoff said. “It’s not a good situation when pedestrians have to go around.”
Commissioners agreed to add a special condition to the permit approval to require some form of barrier to ensure table and chair placement. Commissioners also permitted an opening at the barrier to allow ingress and egress into the dining area from the sidewalk, at Black’s request.
Commissioners approved the permit and site plans by a vote of 6-0, with mayor pro tem Therese Longe abstaining, citing a potential conflict of interest.