ST. JOSEPH -- When the St. Joseph bars and restaurants are finally able to reopen their doors to sit down customers they'll be able to do it with expanded outdoor seating, and lower liquor license fees.

The St. Joseph City Council unanimously approved both measures during Monday night's meeting.

Liquor license fees are due in St. Joseph on June 1st, however this year the council voted to give the license holders an extra 60 days to pay the fee as well as slashing the fee in half. City Administration says they normally collect about $12,000 annually with those fees, meaning the city budget will be impacted by about a $6,000 loss.

Photo by WJON.com's Jim Maurice

Meanwhile, the city council also gave the administration the authority to loosen up outdoor dining options.

My reaction is very positive, we definitely have a city council that is behind us 100%, as long as we keep it within the law.

Bello Cucina owner Jason Mueller says he'll consider adding more tables beyond just the patio that he already has.

We're definitely going to come back at it and see where the possibilities might be.  Fifty percent in a restaurant really isn't going to help

The owners of the LayPlayette talked about adding more outdoor seating behind their bar with the possibility of adding some live music, as long as they are not charged any additional fees.

City Administrator Kris Ambuehl also talked about the possibility of taking picnic tables from a few of the city parks and placing them on the sidewalks near the bars and restaurants.

Governor Tim Walz is expected to announce guidelines on Wednesday for bars and restaurants to be able to reopen on June 1st, it's widely speculated those guidelines may include limited capacity.

Mayor Rick Schultz says, "we'd like to be as lenient as possible and still be within the law, the more square footage the better".

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