Many of Lawrence's restaurant and bars are turning to the outdoors.
A check with several restaurants licensed to sell alcoholic beverages shows many customers like the idea of eating lunch under the sun or sipping a drink at night under the stars.
And restaurant operators say it's becoming something of a trend among the newer establishments opening up.
Ron Ousdahl, manager of Hockenbury Tavern, 1016 Mass., which has been open about a month and a half, said his bar and grill includes an outdoor dining area behind the business.
"We've had it since we opened," he said. "We can probably get 50 out there easy."
The Lawrence City Commission recently approved site plans for a beer garden in the pocket park just south of The Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass., which is to serve as an annex to the big Six Sports Club, a bar and grill in the hotel's basement.
Kirk Cerney, co-manger of the club, has said the garden would seat about 100 patrons.
STEVE GAUDREAU, owner of Quinton's Bar & Deli, 615 Mass., said his business recently opened its deck area, which seats about 45.
"As we were researching other restaurants around town we've seen there's been a couple of them that have popped up with decks," Gaudreau said. "It's an appeal to the summertime crowd."
Gaudreau said he had to get a building permit from the city to build the outdoor deck area and also had to acquire a special liquor license to serve drinks on the deck.
Diana Palos, owner of Full Moon Cafe, 803 Mass., said she has placed tables and chairs outside her 6-month-old restaurant for her customers convenience.
"People love it. It's more New York. It's more fun. Its just a good time," she said. "It's the way to do things."
However, Palos said she didn't get official approval to put the seating outside for six to eight spaces.
"We didn't apply for a license. We didn't go through any channels. We talked to our neighbors and they like it," she said. "We hope we don't have to go through any channels for this."
PALOS SAID she occasionally offers entertainment outside.
"We periodically get some drummers out there after the shops are closed," she said. "And the customers seem to have a lot of fun."
She said neighboring business seem to like it.
"It draws people down the alley," she said. "They are supportive."
Linda Finger, city planner and historic resources administrator, said she wasn't aware if the Full Moon Cafe is in compliance with city zoning ordinances.
"I really don't know what they're doing out there," Finger said.
Businesses wanting to establish an outside area must get approval through the city, she said. That's necessary because of additional parking that might be required if the business increases its seating area.
However, if the business is in a zoning area where no parking is required, it must still get approval because there are other considerations. Those include being responsible for the trash generated, for making sure alcoholic beverages don't leave the premises and for keeping the noise levels down.
SETTING UP outdoor areas appears to be popular for restaurant owners, Finger said.
"They're discovering there's an awful lot of good weather in Kansas and people enjoy being out in it," she said. "It brings the community feeling, the neighborliness. It ties in with the character that Lawrence is known for with its quality of life and friendliness."
She said restaurants are finding out that they can go beyond their walls.
"Our concern is, when you do that, you don't encroach upon the existing use there, which is pedestrian movement on the sidewalks and public rights of way," she said.
Several older restaurants in the city say they've had success with their outdoor areas.
Jeff Farthing, a bartender at Free State Brewing Co. Inc., 636 Mass., says the Free State's outdoor area seats 40 to 50 people.
"IT'S VERY popular, especially when the weather is nice," he said. "It's one of the more popular areas, especially in the springtime."
J.R. Bockerstette, manager of Dos Hombres, 815 N. H. said his restaurant has had a patio that seats about 40 people since it opened in 1985.
"I've heard a lot of people are looking into it. It's been fairly profitable for us," Bockerstette said. "It's always fun to work in the outdoors as well as eat there. It works out well for everyone."
Rick Renfro, one of the partners of Johnny's Tavern, 401 N. Second, said he's had a outdoor area that seats 65 for three years.
"I think anybody has the space available for one will use it," Renfro said. "This summer has been pretty good for it."
John Davis, manager, of Becerros Mexican, 2515 W. Sixth, says his area, which can seat 50 to 60 people is popular with customers.
"It's a nice touch for nights," Davis said.