Your Views – Why ban high tops and stools?


After three seasons of sidewalk dining with absolutely no problems regarding our seating arrangement I was very disappointed with the Councils decision to ban high top tables and stools. I understand that Councils main concern is that bar stools and high top tables convey a bar-like atmosphere which is inappropriate for King Street. In my opinion this undesirable bar like atmosphere is more a result of the alcohol than the high top tables.

I dont suggest this as a solution for the Hard Times, but if theoretically we chose to not serve alcohol outside, would the high top tables then become acceptable again or do high top tables alone have a stigma that make them inappropriate for King Street? Does the Council believe that a difference of ten inches actually makes a table more visually obtrusive and may adversely impact neighboring businesses and residences? I dont believe for a minute that the issue is anything other than folks drinking too much and getting rowdy on the sidewalk. We can all agree that is inappropriate and unacceptable behavior but the owner of an establishment has a responsibility to the neighborhood to make sure their patrons conduct themselves properly or the establishment risks sanctions by the ABC and city. Like it or not moderate alcohol consumption is a component of an active city environment.

I submit that the high top tables used by the Hard Times creates no more a bar-like atmosphere than do high top tables in an ice cream parlor. If people are going to drink outside and create a nuisance in the neighborhood it can be done just as easily with tables 32 inches high. If an establishment markets itself as a bar or watering hole it is going to attract that type of clientele regardless of how far the tables are off the ground.

I will remind you that the Hard Times is a family restaurant. Our sidewalk high top table seating does not create a bar-like atmosphere. I would hope anyone with a modicum of esthetic sensibility would agree that a variety of seating both high and low contributes more to a vibrant and interesting city experience than does a standardized table height.

The Hard Times thanks those brave and enlightened Council members who showed support for us. We will of course accept the majority decision but I believe the majority of Council to be seriously misguided on this issue. There will be no negative impact on our business but the fact we are being sanctioned for a problem we do not have and have never had sticks in my craw. I would think a creative City Council could come up with solution where there is no collateral damage.

I have mentioned before that a more democratic and equitable solution would be to let those who are impacted make the decision. Poll our immediate neighborhood. If those within a three block radius feel the high top tables and stools have a negative impact on their quality of life then we would gladly abide by their wishes.

Again, I am very disappointed in the Council. Their decision on this issue reflects very poorly on them.

Fred Parker
Hard Times Caf