You know it's spring when you see the downtown St. Cloud bars getting ready for patio season.

Back a few years during the COVID-19 pandemic, the city and area bars partnered to allow downtown bars and restaurants to use parking and sidewalk space in front of their businesses for seasonal patio seating.

Just this week, the concrete barricades, patio seating and lighting went up downtown. And soon -- once the temperatures and weather get a little nicer -- you'll see people seated outside, enjoying food, adult beverages and Central Minnesota weather.



Patio seating in the St. Cloud area is a curious thing, isn't it? It doesn't matter that the seating area overlooks a highway or street or parking lot. People are just glad to be outside and enjoying our all-too-short warm weather season.

Bar and restaurant owners love these seasonal patios. They effectively give them significant additional seating, add a fun "novelty" element to their place and can enhance their bottom line. Yes, it can take more logistics and potentially more wait staff to pay, but the trade-off is worth it.

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In St. Cloud, you have to keep your drinks to within the barricaded area. But who knows what happens in the future?

Just down the road in Anoka, they're holding their second pilot program with the "Anoka Social District." City officials have created a designated multiple block area where you can take your drinks -- in a "roadie" cup, I suppose -- anywhere in the social district between 10 am and 10 pm. They did this for a month last year and got such positive feedback, they're doing it again this year all summer long.

Could St. Cloud do something like that eventually? Stay tuned.

For now, just know St. Cloud will have several additional patio spaces in the near future downtown where you can dine and drink this summer. Enjoy it while you can -- Minnesota summers are short.

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