For some, it may feel like the COVID pandemic has passed us by, while others are still dealing with the lingering effects. With warmer weather (fingers crossed) on the way, patio season is gearing up for the spring and summer months ahead.

While regular patrons have the benefit of sitting outside, enjoying a beautiful day, eating, and drinking their little hearts out, restaurant owners want the city to make owning a patio a little easier on their wallets.

KCRG reported the past 2 years, Iowa City has waived patio fees to help restaurants with the global pandemic, however, those fees have returned and some business owners want these fees lowered.

Yolanda Robinson, the restaurant owner of Burger Haul told KCRG she hasn't loved paying thousands of dollars to have a patio, especially since restaurants are still dealing with issues caused by the pandemic.

“We’re feeling the effects more than ever,” Robinson said. “We still have to deal with the high delivery costs, people aren’t going out as much, and staffing.”


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There are up to 30 restaurants that pay the city to use its right-of-way according to KCRG.

These fees can range from $1,500 to $4,000 depending on the size of the restaurant's patio.

With staffing still being an issue, delivery costs going up, and people not going out as much you might be able to understand why these restaurants are looking for some help.

Personally, I've noticed fewer people out and about, even on Friday and Saturday nights.

If they could lower these fees even in half, it could really help out a lot of these area restaurants, who want to continue allowing people to use their patios.

I'd hate for a business to have to close down their patio because it's too expensive to keep. In the midwest, we love patio season, as we try to soak up as much sun as we can.

I swear Busch Lights taste better when you can drink them on a sunny summer day. Maybe that's why I prefer them at room temperature.  I know my fiance would hate to not be able to enjoy her brunchtime mimosas outside.

Robinson continued to KCRG

“The restaurants have been hit so much over the past two years,” Robinson said. “They need any support they can get.”

The "nighttime mayor" of the Iowa City Downtown District, Joe Reilly does believe something can be done.

He told KCRG

“Our city waived those fees for the past two years, so there’s something that can be worked on,” Reilly said. “The city just needs to identify it.”

If you're like me and feel the pandemic is mostly in your rearview mirror, now is a good time to remember to support your local businesses and restaurants.

While I don't necessarily feel the effects of the pandemic on a daily basis, there are plenty of Iowans who still are.

Here is a list of 30 outdoor patio spots to keep you busy all summer!

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