Detroit extends outdoor dining program through April amid COVID-19 restrictions

The City of Detroit is extending its outdoor dining program to support the restaurants impacted by the new COVID-19 indoor dining restrictions

The city is calling it Open Detroit and, so far, we're told 15 restaurants have signed up to take advantage of the extension, which lasts through April 2021. 

The program allows for sidewalks, parklets (on-streets parking spaces) and private parking lots to be temporarily converted for uses such as seating, expanded outdoor dining areas and retail space. The city has also designated a select number of Café & Retail Zones where the city will close selected portions of an entire street. 

So now the question is - will enough people brave the cold to support these businesses?

"The summer we did great. But, that's the summer," said Ladonna Reynolds. She and Derrick Reynolds old Good Times and are now spending more than $20,000 to outfit their restaurant for outdoor diners since indoor dining is on pause. 

"The bank account is getting low because we have to pay for this," Derrick said. "We don’t want to lose our business so we have to give it a shot."

The City says people flocked to pre-COVID outdoor winter events like the tree lighting or Winter Blast and are hoping the same crowds can show up for the restaurants. 

The Reynolds are adding heated seating on the sidewalk, parking lot and on their rooftop. No four-sided tents are allowed but igloos are as long as they are completely sanitized between uses. 

"I think people will show up. A lot of people want to be out and they don't want to be in the house," Ladonna said.

It was 40 degrees last weekend and the small crowd at Good Times gave some promise for the weeks - maybe months - to come.

"For us to keep going we have to pay it. We have to come up with something to get it done in order to serve the community and help Detroit keep moving," Derrick said. 

Applications for the winter program are now open and can be submitted at