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Wayzata is a premier suburb located 11 miles west of downtown Minneapolis. With a population of 4,500 people, Wayzata is a tight-knit community which is known for its vibrant downtown and picturesque setting on Lake Minnetonka. A popular destination for visitors, Wayzata’s downtown is home to a number of specialty shops, boutiques, professional services, and restaurants.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Should Gianni's be allowed to expand onto sidewalk while removing parking on Lake Street?

At the Wayzata City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 5th, Gianni's Steakhouse managing partner Terri Hummel filed an Outdoor Patio Request.  The request called for parking spaces to be removed in front of the restaurant, with an elevated boardwalk to allow pedestrians to walk around the patrons and tables that would be placed in front of the establishment.

A pedestrian walks in front of Gianni's Steakhouse in
Wayzata. A recent request to the Wayzata City Council
asked for "sidewalk extenders to be placed in the parking
spaces in front of the restaurant. Photo Dan Gustafson.
According to Wayzata City Planner Brian Gadow, Gianni's does have a Conditional Use Permit that allows for 16 chairs to be outside, with no alcohol service allowed.

Ms. Hummel indicated she would like to begin service on May 1st, 2011. She addressed the Council, "We are a little hamstrung, in that we don't have any room to expand. In looking at what my current liabilities are, I have a 4,370 square foot space. My taxes on that space are $69,000 per year.  For the year, my rent, CAM and taxes on that space is going to be $245,000."

Hummel continued, "I am proposing placing PVC fencing, with canvas umbrellas, and sectioning off the section outside... When it is a beautiful day, my restaurant is empty.  Every other Wayzata restaurant with an outdoor patio is completely full."

Council woman Mary Bader expressed concern on behalf of pedestrians who would not be able to utilize the City sidewalk.  "I am concerned it might feel like a construction zone."  Bader continued later on, "I don't think we have spent enough time talking about the fact that this is a public sidewalk.  It is the most busy part of town during the summer, and it is taking away a pedestrian walkway.  You are re-routing traffic... I am concerned about our cavalier approach to pedestrians walkways."

Council member Jack Amdal expressed concern about removing parking spaces on main street.

Mayor Willcox asked about the liability of the sidewalk extenders, and who would be responsible.  City Planner Gadow said he would look into it and report back.  Mayor Willcox also asked what form the agreement would take, and would it be a problem for James J. Hill Days and the Art Experience.

Ms. Hummel and City Staff will collaborate on the liability issue, the memo of agreement, a site plan, and present it for review on April 19th by the Council for a one season trial; if the City liked the experiment Gianni's would have to go back before the Planning Commission.

Commenting for this story, Stacy Carisch, landlord of the property stated, "We are unaware of any request at this point."

What is your point of view?  Should Gianni's be allowed to receive space on the sidewalk and divert pedestrians onto sidewalk extenders on Lake Street?  What do you think the pedestrian experience would be like?  Should parking be removed on Lake Street to allow Gianni's to have a sidewalk cafe?  Please use our comment box to voice your opinion.

42 comments:

  1. Kent Howe12:25 PM

    I think it's a good idea. Anything we can do to get to help the businesses stay in town.

    We have too many vacancies already.

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  2. Donna M Kane3:40 PM

    I am the owner of the Side Door Ltd in Wayzata, and would not be in favor of

    Giving up any parking spaces for outside eating. Many customers say if I don,'t find

    A space near to park I don't stop. We have ben in business in Wayzata for 29

    Years and the retail climate has been difficult lately, we don't want to make it

    Harder for our customers to shop. Also why would one establishment be given

    Exclusive use to the sidewalk and parking spaces?

    Were hoping this is not allowed, sincerely.

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  3. I say "no". Wayzata is pedestrianly challenged as it is. Who wants cars flying down Lake Street encountering a patio jutting out? It's not fair to the other retailers or pedestrians. We visit Gianni's frequently and I would focus on the arrognat service instead of a part time patio.

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  4. Anonymous12:05 AM

    Gianni's needs Wayzata much more than Wayzata needs Gianni's. And it's not fair to the other retailers on Main Street. The concept is too obtrusive.

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  5. Anonymous10:42 AM

    Theres parking across the street and multiple floors of parking in the garage behind...several cities have these walkways and the walkways do not "jut out"...if anything it may create a boardwalk in Wayzata and bring more people to all of the stores and restaurants! Let'em try it for this summer as a test.

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  6. I would love to see a patio at Gianni's, the food is great and having the option to sit outdoors would be wonderful! The parking spaces taken would be for Gianni's customers any way so why not make this happen. Sounds great Twilah

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  7. I think it is a good idea. It would be nice to enjoy the outdoors while having a great meal. I would think that the design could be developed so that it would be quite positive for the restaurant as well as allowing traffic for the other retail shops. Try it for a year!

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  8. Anonymous11:43 AM

    I am totally in favor of Giannis plan in modified form if need be. The issues cited can be worked through and those types of restaurant patios add to the quaintness of the city which has had it's butt kicked by Excelsior in numerous ways over the recent years. Instead of being a detriment to retail I believe that it will add to the traffic and fun of the area. Keeping the status quo has run businesses out of the city for years. Let's hear it for a little creativity!!!

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  9. Jeffrey K. Jarnes12:20 PM

    I am a frequent Gianni’s patron and I am in full support of Teri Huml’s request for outside seating. I feel that it would do a lot to provide additional atmosphere to that area of town and it would also help increase the economics of the surrounding businesses.

    Thank you for your attention to this and please feel free to call if you would like to discuss it in more detail.

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  10. Norm Cocke12:38 PM

    I favor the proposal. How nice would it be to have this outdoor setting at Gianni's on a beautiful summer afternoon or evening! The parking matter is insignificant given the overall capacity of downtown. The safety issues should be properly addressed.

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  11. Anonymous12:43 PM

    As a Gianni's frequenter I strongly support patio expansion for the summer. As it is, I myself and countless other patrons enjoy getting food to-go and eating outside the restaurant in the summer however, I believe the experience would be much more pleasurable if Gianni's full service could be extended outdoors. The proposal is quite solid and the three parking places it would eliminate is hardly a concern as there is PLENTY of parking available on Lake Street and in the 3 level parking garage. The cozy sidewalk atmosphere would give Wayzata a European touch and would ultimately liven the area an bring more traffic to surrounding retail spaces.

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  12. Anonymous12:52 PM

    What a great idea! This proposal seems like it would provide a great economic boost for the Wayzata community which loses many people to other areas where outdoor dining is more prevalent (like Excelsior). As for the comment about it eliminating parking, that's hardly an issue. If your customers aren't willing to shop at your store if they can't get parking directly out front I think that says something more about your store than it says about the issue of parking. If your customers are as loyal as you claim, they'd be willing to walk a few extra steps.

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  13. Anonymous1:05 PM

    This would give Wayzata the community atmosphere that's been lacking! Fingers crossed for Terri's success!!!!

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  14. Anonymous1:13 PM

    Gianni's should be granted the same chance to expand outside as the other restaurants in the area. Why punish what is arguably the area's finest restaurant? Let them flourish and the surrounding area will flourish as well!!

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  15. Debbie and Pierce McNally2:49 PM

    PLEASE allow Giannis to have outdoor seating in front of the restaurant. We are desperate to keep our good restaurants alive in Wayzata in this bad economy!!

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  16. Anonymous5:26 PM

    Great creative leadership!!!!! Bravo City Council and City Staff! We need more forward thinking in these tough times!

    greg rye

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  17. Anonymous5:42 PM

    Bravo Terri Huml for listening to her patrons who have been begging for outdoor seating/ service and finding a low cost solution. This community desperately needs quant dining spots that serve outstanding quality food and with outdoor seating, Gianni's can deliver on every level. Oh, I can hardly wait for the new cafe seating.

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  18. We enjoy Gianni's and its one of the main reasons we frequent Wayzata year around. I say give them the chance to make this work for at least the summer and review it again next year. It will only add to the charm of main street and hardly be any inconvenience to anyone.

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  19. Anonymous7:20 PM

    I absolutely think Giannis should serve on the sidewalk.
    It will add character and a positive energy to downtown Wayzata!!

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  20. As a Wayzata resident and frequent patron, I would love to see Gianni's have outdoor seating. I wish Terri the best in her efforts to move forward with this.

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  21. Anonymous4:05 PM

    Gianni's should be granted a permit to have outdoor seating this summer. Thank you to the city council and the city staff for allowing a creative, energetic, crowd-pleasing plan to be presented. It shows your dedication to helping businesses thrive and flexibility to accept new ideas. Best of luck to Terri in her new venture. Great job to all.
    Katie

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  22. Anonymous8:01 PM

    Outdoor dining in minnesota is such a treat. Why not allow gianni's patron to enjoy great food and one of Minnesota best views at the same.time. It's good for business and good for wayzata!

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  23. Anonymous3:40 PM

    I think its a great idea. As a Giannis patron, I have been eager for an outdoor patio. Sunsets does great during summer in part of their outdoor patio. Wayzata in summer is beautiful and what better way than to have costumers enjoy the wonderful food along with a beautiful view of the lake. I think it would be great for wayzata

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  24. Anonymous5:25 PM

    I think Gianni's would be a great spot for outdoor dining in Wayzata. After such a long winter, I love to sit outside. I don't think 3 parking spots would be greatly missed. It would encourage more visitors to the Wayzata area and retails shops would have more traffic. Why not try it out this summer?

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  25. Anonymous8:50 PM

    Another "anonymous" quote that seems to NOT favor this idea.....and all of other ones sound vaguely familiar. When are people going to favor the pedestrian? Not to mention the high traffic of dogs in the area. And does everyone realize that the patio will not serve liquor? to the comment about Excelsior...they have been kicking our butt for 7 years now. Open your eyes.

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  26. Maybe giannis should lower their price point and take a real look at what is taking away from their business???? I have personally called 3x in the last 2 weeks to have a lunch menu faxed or emailed to me and I guess they are just too busy. Good luck on the patio.

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  27. Anonymous8:52 AM

    I vote 'YES'! I think Gianni's should be allowed to build an outdoor patio. The restaurant is a staple and an icon in downtown Wayzata. Of course the construction period will be inconvenient, but it will be insignificant compared to the positive long term residual effects of a permanent outdoor patio in downtown. Albeit slightly deviated, the pedestrians will still have a walkway - it's not like Gianni's is asking to completely remove the sidewalk. There are plenty of other free parking spaces on Lake Street and in the multi-level parking garage, so losing 3 spaces seems inconsequential to me. I do think that they should be allowed to serve alcoholic beverages on their patio, however. Most customers want to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail with their meal, and preventing Gianni's from providing this service would ultimately hurt the patio business. Go big, or go home as they say, right?

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  28. Anonymous9:42 AM

    ABSOLUTELY! A patio at Gianni's would be fantastic. I'm sure there can be some sort of compromise to keep the pedestrian flow while still having a great patio atmosphere at Gianni's.

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  29. Anonymous9:50 AM

    The only reason I am posting anonymous is because I can't figure out how to get my other email posted. I am very hesitant about Gianni's request. 1st, there will be no alcohol on the patio. That may be alright for some, however many people will continue elsewhere to sit outsite for a cocktail. 2nd, Wayzata's framework is already disjointed as it is. The Condos on Lake Street break up the business district, several businesses are off the beaten path because of rent rates and the Bay Center is in limbo. I don't see how moving the sidewalk out will be eye pleasing nor condusive to the atmosphere. Blue Point has a patio in the BACK of the restaurant, which doesn't take up parking space. I agree with another post, maybe Gianni's should take a look at their prices, menu and attitude. Long gone are the snooty restaurants with $150 per couple tabs. If you want to act like Manny's take a page out of their book. The economy isn't going to change anytime soon and this is just a bandaid for a restaurant that lacks stellar service and consistant food. I will take a knee on the spun salad (that USED to be included with dinner). I don't like to see any business in our town suffer however this is not the answer to Gianni's problems.

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  30. Dick Niglio11:18 AM

    I strongly urge the Wayzata City Council to approve Gianni's outdoor patio request. The entire Lake Street business district would benefit from the added patronage the outdoor patio would attract.

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  31. Morse1:45 PM

    I feel that Wayzata should support creative ideas like Gianni's patio. The increase in foot traffic should compensate for lost parking spaces. Gianni's new dockside delivery was a hit for our family as well last summer.

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  32. Anonymous10:11 PM

    Outdoor seating would be great at Gianni's. I am in favor and would say to local businesses that the increased traffic could actually help, not hurt, their sales.

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  33. Anonymous11:23 PM

    I pay taxes in wayzata too are u going to allow me to bump out my porch so I can have seating for twelve versus five? I think not! I have been to giannis many times during the summer and it had always been busy. Is two glasses of wine and an appetizer and them sitting there all night going to help pay your taxes?
    Think about it!

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  34. Terri Huml9:15 AM

    I have been reading, with great interest, the many comments posted in response to this article. There are many assumptions that are not fact and I would like to make corrections. First, we WILL have liquor and full dinner service on the patio. Second, my lunch menu prices are from $5 to $16, which is in line with my competition. Third, I have taken the prices down by over 10% plus across the board while eating the increases this year in beef, produce, dairy and other staples. Fourth, I am the only restaurant without outdoor seating and this does put me at a disadvantage. Last, I have made successful strides in improving the service levels at Gianni's. Customer service is #1 and I suggest that if your most recent recollection of us is arrogant service, then you have not been in to eat in the last year. I only ask that we give this a trial run this summer. If you want to reach me at the restaurant to answer more questions, please feel free to do so. Our number is 952-404-1100. Thanks to all who've voiced their support.

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  35. mcoen011:05 AM

    Yes Yes by all means Yes. Work with the neighbors to allow parking when Sidewalk service isn't offered. Agreements can be achieved. Don't further hinder our Town businesses with more Government anti-business decisions. The Muni opens this month with plenty of outdoor seating.

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  36. Larry Fisher2:11 PM

    I enjoy Gianni's a great deal and applaud Terri Huml for her creative approach to solving what I'm sure is a fairly troublesome issue for her and her business. It seems to me that the advantages for both her and the surrounding business's, far outweigh any potential issues in regard to parking and or pedestrian traffic. I strongly urge that council approve this plan.

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  37. Anonymous8:44 PM

    Ummmm we have eaten there 3x in the past year and yes, the service is still arrogant and the prices are outragous, comperable to Manny's. Don't even get me started about our New Year's dinner which was a joke and then some. Sorry Terri, take a knee on what is hurting your business and listen to your customers. While outdoor dining will be a nice benefit to your restaurant, there are still significant issues that are effecting your bottom line. I know, I've been in the business for 20 years.

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  38. YES, give it a whirl for this summer and see how it goes. With the blistering taxes and rent, coupled with the great recession,Gianni's will not be able to make a go of it without this boost in outdoor dining clientele. Plus, it adds excitement to the street scene in Wayzata, in our opinion.

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  39. Anonymous11:56 AM

    I say no. It won't flow with the look of the rest of the town. One big question, who will pay for the patio and street/parking space work???

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  40. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Giannis would pay for the patio space and conatruction of the temporary sidewalk.

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  41. Anonymous3:31 PM

    I think you should try it for the summer. Terri is very conscientious and responsible, and I'm sure she will make the Wayzata community proud. Excelsior has allowed outside seating at a couple of their restaurants with pedestrians walking by and it has not caused any problems.

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  42. Anonymous7:13 PM

    Ummmmm whats with the guy that goes back to a place 3 times after having a bad experience every time!?
    Must be something bringing you back.. No restaurant is 100% perfect all the time but they must be doing something right to still be open with plenty of regular customers like myself.
    Yes Gianni's has been affected by the economy as we all have but its still in business and looking for ways to improve its bottom line. Something you should understand being in business for "20 years".

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