Published May 18 2023
‘Al Fresco’ program runs through mid-September
With sunny summer weather upon us, Bellevue has launched its annual “Al Fresco” outdoor dining program for a fourth summer. What was originally developed to support local businesses faced with COVID-19 indoor capacity restrictions has since become a well-loved and highly anticipated extension of summer activity downtown.
Alongside the 40-plus restaurants offering outdoor dining across the city, the Al Fresco program provides expanded dining spaces for local restaurants and eateries in the Old Bellevue area. This year’s collective on-street expansion includes 520 Bar & Grill, Browne Family Vineyards, Bis on Main, Fern Thai on Main, and Rouge Cocktail Lounge.
Thanks to the city’s collaborative efforts with the Bellevue Downtown Association and Old Bellevue Merchants Association, this year’s program continues the evolution of the program into a permanent experience for residents and visitors.
“Since launching the outdoor dining program in the summer of 2020, we’ve received positive feedback every year,” said City Manager Brad Miyake. “People love the vitality it adds to our already beautiful ‘City Where You Want to Be.’ Not only does this program provide businesses an opportunity to cultivate that vibrant atmosphere, it also enables them to expand their capacity to serve more customers during the bustling summer months.”
The 2023 Al Fresco outdoor dining program will run through mid-September. This year, more businesses than ever before will welcome customers to their outdoor spaces. For those interested in dining outside while supporting local restaurants, the Bellevue Downtown Association offers a map of participating locations. It is recommended to contact the business to confirm its al fresco options, as restaurants will be launching their outdoor dining spaces gradually over the next several weeks.
“We’ve seen great growth in this program since 2020,” said Jesse Canedo, Bellevue’s chief economic development officer. “From having just a handful of restaurants participate that first year, we’ll now have six “streateries,” including two new spaces, and dozens more sidewalk cafés, providing patrons with an extensive array of wonderful options to experience Bellevue ‘al fresco’ throughout the city.”
To participate in the program, businesses apply for a paid permit with the City of Bellevue each year. The city is reviewing this process to improve accessibility and reduce participation barriers for the future. For those interested in being part of the program, resources can be found at Outdoor Dining.
"Through the Al Fresco program, we've seen how providing outdoor dining options can help local businesses thrive,” said Patrick Bannon, president of the Bellevue Downtown Association. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see restaurants offer a unique experience to their customers, all while creating a more vibrant and welcoming environment for all.”