The completion of the streetscape expansion project of 2021 gave Lakelanders a taste of sidewalk dining, and now they’re ordering seconds.
Unlike the original expansion, a new venture featuring prefabricated metal sidewalk extensions called “parklets” will allow businesses to expand outdoor seating without having to undergo road-altering construction. Two downtown restaurants are already expecting their parklets to be fully installed in the coming weeks.
Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille and Frescos Southern Kitchen & Bar have already received a majority of the required materials for their parklets. Now, the businesses are waiting on the availability of an installer to complete the transformation. Once the process is underway, construction of the parklets will take roughly one hour.
While exact numbers have not yet been determined, an estimated 20-30 seats will be added to the parklets at Harry’s. Frescos plans to move their existing picnic tables to the new parklets and create 24 new seats where the picnic tables currently sit.
Originally, the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority (LDDA) was going to pitch in $10,000 per parklet, with the expectation that participating restaurants would cover the remaining cost. However, in 2022 the LDDA instead decided to fully fund each parklet and then lease it for an “inconsequential amount of money” to Frescos and Harry’s, who will be responsible for cleaning and maintenance.