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Knoxville City Council approves temporary permit for restaurants to serve alcohol outside property

The Knoxville City Council approved the resolution unanimously. Restaurants will first need to apply for extended table service, then apply for the new permit.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville City Council approved a resolution Tuesday evening allowing restaurants to serve alcohol outside their property.

Restaurants will have to apply for the temporary permit, which will allow them to serve beer in areas like expanded outdoor seating, such as on Market Square. Officials also said restaurants will first need to apply for extended table service, then apply for the beer permit separately.

The Knoxville City Council approved the resolution unanimously. Officials said they hoped it would help restaurants stay in business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tomato Head is the first restaurant to take advantage of the extended outdoor dining in Market Square.

Co-owner Mahasti Vafaie said she's happy the city is offering this option, since her restaurant's patio can only fit four tables under social distancing guidelines.

"It's a wonderful thing that the city's doing, hopefully people can take advantage of it," she said.

The City of Knoxville said Not Watson's was just approved as the second restaurant to extend their patio dining to the special fenced off area in Market Square.

The city said several other applications have been filed from businesses not currently open, so it hasn't taken action on them yet.

The Knox County Board of Health mandated businesses that make at least half of their income from alcohol sales close by 10 p.m., to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Between Aug. 7 - 9, restaurants were also exempt from sales-tax during a tax holiday.