For many restaurants, bars and cafes, adding an outdoor deck or patio is a great way to keep customers happy, especially when the weather warms up. It’s also an excellent financial choice, typically boasting a 72% return on investment.
But if your restaurant’s patio doesn’t have enough plants, beware of the “plant police” — they’re out there, and they’re watching.
According to a June 17 Eater article, Blue Bricks, a restaurant in Mankato, MN, closed its sidewalk patio space after the city’s “plant police” cited its failure to meet the minimum foliage requirement.
Last summer, the city instated a rule that requires all businesses with sidewalk decks and patios to cover at least 25% of their patio space with live plants. Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges explained this rule was put in place to liven up the downtown area and prevent these areas from turning into “drinking corrals.”
In May, Blue Bricks received a notice from the city that said the restaurant had until May 25 to increase its plant count. On May 28, three days after the restaurant’s deadline, its foliage count hadn’t changed — so the police ordered the restaurant to shut down the patio. While Hentges called this a “harsh decision” for the city, it was a necessary one.
Because this sidewalk patio space is technically city property and “public right of way,” Mankato’s leaders have the right to regulate this space. Since the plant requirement went into effect, Blue Bricks has been the only business the city has cited for a plant shortage.
Luckily, Blue Bricks was permitted to re-open its deck a day later after owner Marty Lewis quickly ran out and purchased an array of plants and landscaping fixtures. It sounds like Mankato residents can breathe a little easier now. Lewis maintains that he never received the initial notice from the city, KARE 11 reported.