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Fort Lauderdale Wants You To Sit And Eat Along Riverwalk, And It May Very Well Happen

It shouldn't be long before you can eat and drink while seated next to the New River.

The city commission approved an amendment to the sidewalk cafe ordinance this week that would allow businesses next to Riverwalk to set up tables and chairs along the water. 

Jenni Morejon, Fort Lauderdale's director of sustainable development, explained that the city has been changing its code over the past few years to encourage more outdoor activity in the downtown and Riverwalk districts.

"[The river] is probably our best natural asset, but we don't take advantage of it in terms of a lot of activation," she said.

Even before the commission gave its preliminary approval, the Historic Downtowner Saloon took the lead, putting out tables and chairs along the river across the way, Morejon said.

After one last review of the amendment on June 16, the revised sidewalk cafe ordinance could go into effect. 

"There's really no opposition from anyone," she said. "We've made it a real effort to make sure there's still adequate pedestrian passageways on the Riverwalk."

Thus far, the city code has not allowed for wait staff to cross small roadways or city streets, which would be required to reach the Riverwalk only steps away. The new ordinance would allow them to do so. 

Additionally, the measure would allow more than just licensed restaurants to operate sidewalk cafes. Other licensed businesses–like coffee shops, smoothie bars and establishments serving alcoholic beverages–that sell food or drinks would also be able to set up a space for customers to sit along the river.

While we're on the topic of outdoor dining, check out this list of the best al fresco dining restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, according to an OpenTable list released this week.

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