• Bellevue launches third summer of expanded outdoor dining

    Published May 24 2022

    “Al Fresco” program runs through mid-September

    With the prospect of sunny summer days on the horizon, Bellevue today launched its third season of dedicated al fresco dining space. Originally conceived as a relief program for restaurants in the Old Bellevue area struggling with indoor capacity restrictions due to COVID-19, the “Al Fresco” dining program has become a popular fixture and a hub for summer activity in downtown Bellevue. Thanks to a partnership with the Bellevue Downtown Association (BDA), Old Bellevue merchants, and Microsoft, this year’s program will mark the beginning of a gradual transition from pandemic recovery to long-term outdoor dining operations and support.

    “As a resident of downtown Bellevue, I’ve found great joy in the outdoor dining spaces at Main Street restaurants,” said Mayor Lynne Robinson. “I’m glad we’ve found a way to move these spaces forward as an ongoing feature beyond the pandemic.”

    The latest Al Fresco outdoor dining program launches May 24 and will run through mid-September, providing nearly four months of active, vibrant experiences. In addition to outdoor dining expansions in the parking lane at select restaurants along Main Street, the Bellevue Downtown Association will promote other outdoor dining spaces on the sidewalk and on private property across the city. This year, more than 40 other restaurants are participating.

    “The Al Fresco program on Main Street and across the city supports Bellevue’s efforts to grow as a destination for outdoor dining and fun activities,” said Jesse Canedo, Bellevue’s chief economic development officer. “We’re already looking for ways to continue this type of work in other areas of downtown.”

    Launched in August 2020 to support local businesses during an era of social distancing, the Al Fresco program continues to garner positive feedback from Main Street stakeholders and from residents across the city. Because of that feedback, the city plans to make this dining program a regular fixture during the summer months.

    “Outdoor dining is a popular and perfect way to enjoy summer in our city,” said Patrick Bannon, BDA president. “Expanded seating areas not only support our restaurants, but they also invite more potential customers for nearby shops and businesses.”

    Businesses interested in participating in the program can find options and resources on the city’s website at Outdoor Dining. Customers interested in dining out and supporting local restaurants can find a map of participating locations at the BDA.