Meridian Township Allows Outdoor Seating at Restaurants

Meridian Township Allows Outdoor Seating at Restaurants

MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - Meridian Township officials are allowing restaurants to open temporary outdoor seating areas for when they are allowed to reopen under the Governor’s executive order.

According to Principal Planner Peter Menser, outdoor dining will help restaurants to ensure the safety of both patrons and staff. He mentioned that it could help restaurants in terms of seating as well.

“The bottom line is, we want to make it easy for businesses,” Menser said. “Restaurants have been hit pretty hard with the COVID crisis here. So, getting outside is one way for them to deal with potentially limited seating capacity, and then safety for their patrons and for their employees”.

Any business that wishes to incorporate outdoor seating must first gain permission from the property owner if the restaurant owner does not already own the space. They must also submit a diagram of the seating arrangements to show that any party would be seated six feet apart. There must be aisleways at least three feet wide for easy navigation through the seating area as well.

Any outdoor dining area, especially those proposed in parking lots, must provide some kind of barrier that clearly separates customers and employees from motor vehicles. These barriers must also be designed to provide protection for the customers. Restaurants will need to get a permit from the Fire Inspector if they wish to put a tent or a similar kind of roofing over the seating area.

For the safety of the restaurant’s patrons, any outdoor seating area must include a clearly marked emergency access area and a fully functioning fire extinguisher. Any restaurants that proposes outdoor lighting must meet Meridian Township’s Dark Sky Ordinance. This requires that fixtures must be in a downward position and shielded in order to prevent light pollution and glare.

Despite all the requirements, it does not take long to complete the process. According to Menser, the process could only take about a day depending on how prepared the restaurants are.

Ahmad, the manager at Ozzy’s Kabob, spoke of how popular his outdoor seating area has been with his patrons.

“It’s been very nice lately," Ahmad said. “They’ve always enjoyed outdoor seating during this time. I bet they’re going to like it more now that it's outside versus inside crowded rooms”.


Any restaurant that is interested in beginning the process of opening temporary seating for outdoor dining in Meridian Township, can call Principal Planner Peter Menser at 517.853.4576. He can also be contacted via email at menser@meridian.mi.us. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) also has a streamline approval process for any restaurant that wishes to serve alcohol at their outdoor seating or as retail sales.

Additional Resources

For more information about the Michigan Liquor Control Commission's streamlined approval process, see their resources page at https://bit.ly/MLCCResources.

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