Restaurants seek OK to take dining to next level |

Restaurants seek OK to take dining to next level

The newest mini-trend among downtown Steamboat Springs restaurants is rooftop dining.

“We’ve had two applications in a month,” city planner Brian Bavosi said Thursday.

Mambo Italiano has a revised application in the midst of the city planning process, and the newest proposal is from Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, 628 Lincoln Ave. The Rio Grande plan would create a 735-square-foot wooden deck on the roof of the one-story building, permitting seating for 49 people in mild weather.

“We hope this will be another draw,” Rio Grande general manager Doug Mouton said. “The city has been very helpful, and we hope that this will not only be great for us but for the downtown, as well.”

Mouton, whose restaurant opened in 2002, said the deck would be built facing Lincoln Avenue. It would offer views of Mount Werner, Howelsen Hill and the Sleeping Giant.

The Rio needs a permit for minor exterior modifications before it can proceed with the project, Bavosi said. Preliminary plans from architect Robert Ralston show the rooftop deck would be accessed by an interior stairway. The wooden decking would be surrounded by a guardrail.

Bavosi said, in general terms, he thinks the trend toward rooftop seating is a positive one, but there are some specific issues to be dealt with.

“Our hope is that we’re going to see more of this,” Bavosi said. “It creates a buzz in the downtown.”

The planning department wants to ensure that the exterior materials used on rooftop decks are consistent with the design values of downtown. And neighbors must be consulted about the kinds of activities that will take place on the open-air decks, Bavosi added. Late parties and live music could be an issue, he said.

Bavosi said he wants to be certain the plan guards against items falling on pedestrians below. One possible solution for rooftop dining decks is a planter that keeps patrons back from the edge of the roof, he said.

Mouton wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the rooftop deck could open this fall, however, he said the spring of 2005 is probably the first major season when the Rio’s deck could open for business.

— To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail

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