Shade Served at a Price in Dallas

Awning fees cost restaurants big bucks

By Kevin Cokely
|  Saturday, Mar 19, 2011  |  Updated 12:11 AM CDT
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Some <a title=Dallas restaurant owners say they shouldn't have to pay big bucks to provide outdoor diners with shade." />

Kevin Cokely, NBCDFW.com

Some Dallas restaurant owners say they shouldn't have to pay big bucks to provide outdoor diners with shade.

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Some Oak Cliff restaurant owners are fighting City Hall's fees for providing shade.

The city charges an annual fee for awnings above sidewalks, so a lot of restaurants just don't have them.

"It's a thousand dollars per awning per year that you're supposed to pay to the city to provide shade, and this is Dallas, Texas, where it's 110 degrees in the summer," said Amy Wallace Cowan, who co-owns a restaurant in the Bishop Arts District.

Wallace, along with others in the Bishop Arts District, are fighting to change the Dallas Development Code.

"The ordinance is obsolete and needs to be evaluated," she said.

They're also getting support from loyal customers.

Lonnie Burgess of Cedar Hill said the fee sounds "exorbitant."

"(It) sounds like a lot of money just to have an awning," he said.

The restaurant owners hope to get some kind of waiver for the Bishop Arts District before the end of summer and then work on getting the code changed for the rest of the city.

"If we can avoid paying those fees, you know, maybe we'd have some put up," said Bishop Arts Restaurant owner Tony Fernandez.

"We've come here for years, and, I mean, awnings would make this perfect. It would be ideal," said Elena Straight, who drives in from Rockwall to dine at her favorite restaurant.

"I think the restaurants should be able to put those up without an ordinance," she said. "You would think that that would make sense just because you're going to get more business, and more business, you know, helps the area."

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