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.a2a_linkname="";a2a_linkurl="";

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.