With some capacity restrictions still in place, a few businesses in Blue Springs and Independence have taken advantage of recent changes in city rules to expand their customer premises, and others plan to.


The Independence City Council was expected Monday evening to allow outdoor dining and alcohol consumption on sidewalks in the Englewood Arts Business District, similar to what is allowed on the Square.


Two weeks ago, the Blue Springs City Council voted to allow businesses to use adjacent outdoor areas to accommodate more customers. The ordinance temporarily allows the mayor and city administrator to waive, modify or suspend business license and permit agreements without having to amend ordinances – essentially allowing changes quickly.


Mary Ellen Gober, who with co-owner Nancy Kerr recently opened Wine Down 109 in Englewood, plans to put some patio seating on the sidewalk directly outside – enough to seat eight or 10 more people.


“I essentially wrote the letter to the council,” Gober said. “We’re definitely going to take advantage of it.”


Besides her business, Gober said, a handful of others such as La Plaza or Vivilore could also expand their footprint. Before, Englewood businesses could only serve alcohol on the sidewalk during a 3rd Friday Art Walk.


While such an ordinance does benefit businesses with expanded capacity amid public health restrictions, Gober said, that’s not the big motive.


“It’s something we would’ve wanted to do regardless of the pandemic,” she said.


In Blue Springs, East Forty Brewing owner David Mann applied for the temporary permit to expand his premises. He set up some barricades to expand his patio space and considered adding some fenced-in tables on the front sidewalk, allowing for a few more patrons while remaining under capacity restrictions. Before expanding, Mann said, he could have fewer than 40 in the brewery, including employees.


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