Restaurants should be allowed to serve food and alcohol on city sidewalks, Mayor John Nalbandian said, but placing too many restrictions on operations could spoil the broth.
In considering an ordinance allowing sidewalk dining, Lawrence city commissioners considered, then rejected, several detailed regulations Tuesday night.
As a result, former Mayor Bob Schumm will have to wait another week to find out whether the commission will pass the ordinance, which would clear the way for Schumm's Massachusetts Street Delicatessen to spill out onto a downtown sidewalk.
The restrictions already would require businesses to have at least 70 percent of sales in food and non-alcoholic beverages; lease sidewalk space for $3.50 per square foot; and add the city to its commercial insurance policy with protection up to $500,000.
The rest, Nalbandian said, will come clean once the open-air deli opens.
"Part of this is he's got to do this, and see what happens," he said.
David Corliss, assistant to the city manager, said he would refine the proposed ordinance and forward it to the commission for next week's meeting.
Commissioner Bob Schulte suggested adding a restriction on dining-area barriers, limiting the enclosures to wrought-iron fences, or some similarly designed metal.
Otherwise, he said, western restaurants might opt for split-rail fences. A Mexican restaurant could go adobe.
"I think that while maybe it's appropriate for that particular establishment, I don't think, as you walk down the street, you're going to appreciate 10 or 12 different kinds of barriers," Schulte said.
Schumm also said he was concerned about appearances, and he suggested adding a requirement for providing commissioners with detailed project drawings before a permit could be approved.
Otherwise, Schumm said, less-than-desirable interpretations of wrought-iron requirements could result.
"When it's built you'd say, `Oh my God, why'd we ever allow that?'" he said.
Schumm wants to transform 162 square feet of sidewalk in front of his deli for bistro-style dining, including a full line of imported beers, wines and liquors.