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Paris Baguette to receive outdoor dining permit

By Grace Lovins

Bakery and café Paris Baguette is expected to gain a city permit to offer outdoor tables following approval by the Birmingham Planning Board after a design review on Wednesday, August 24.

Paris Baguette had placed tables and chairs outside of the business but they were removed because the business had failed to get city approval as required.

Senior planner Brooks Cowan presented the outdoor dining proposal to the board, noting that the café proposes to add eight outdoor dining tables in the public right of way, for a total of 15 chairs and a handicap accessible table space. The design will also feature four umbrellas anchored down by a granite base and which does not protrude into the public right-of-way.

Given that there are the two adjacent businesses to Paris Baguette, board member Bryan Williams questioned the pedestrian route. Both restaurants next to the café, sweetgreens and the upcoming Bell Bistro, which is set to replace The Mad Hatter, have been approved for outdoor dining facilities, it could make a chain of outdoor dining facilities on the sidewalk.

Cowan walked the board through the dimensions of the sidewalk as the dining facilities will stagger with sweetgreens and Bell Bistro offering tables next to their storefronts while Paris Baguette places its dining facility 10 feet from the storefront.

Cowen said a pedestrian walking in front of sweetgreens will have an extended right-of-way since the dining facilities are located at the storefront, then will have 5.4 feet of space between the end of the sweetgreens storefront and the adjacent edge of the Paris Baguette storefront. Where the Paris Baguette storefront begins, he said, pedestrians will have about 10 feet of sidewalk space between their outdoor dining facility and storefront, which will taper down to roughly five feet of space at the edge of the storefront adjacent to Bell Bistro.

Chairperson Scott Clein also questioned the design with respect to the handicap accessible table. The diagrams included in the presentation showed where the handicap accessible table would be located and how the table would function as handicap accessible. Clein was concerned over a rectangle depicted in the diagram that, at first glance, appeared to represent a ramp or structure protruding into the sidewalk.

One of the architects working with the café, Katie Schmidt of JSN Architecture, confirmed to the board that the depiction demonstrated how much of the table might protrude into the sidewalk when occupied and that the accessible table is a requirement of state law. However, there will be no ramp or structure needed.

After a motion was made to approve the design review of the outdoor seating, board member Daniel Share offered his support for the proposed layout of the seating.

“I appreciate the fact that the chairs are designed to be parallel to the walkway, other than the handicapped table, and that’s a great thing because it will help you address the creep of going north and south. The bigger problem tends to be the creep into the walking lane, so I think this is a good solution and one we might want to encourage our other restaurateurs to adopt,” Share said.

The design review application was approved by the board in a 7-0 vote, with alternate board members Jason Emerine and Nasseem Ramin filling the spots of board members Stuart Jeffares and Janelle Boyce, who were absent from the meeting.

Issuance of the permit now becomes an administrative procedure by city staff.


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