Deprived of terraces this summer, restaurateurs and cafeteria owners fear being left behind

“I’ve been waiting for an answer for more than three months,” sighs Bertrand, behind the counter of his bar-restaurant La Bicyclette, in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. The bearded fellow wants to install a summer terrace on the parking spaces in front of his restaurant there, where two years earlier, he had been able to install an ephemeral terrace, at the end of the Covid-19. “I sent a first request in mid-February to which I was answered asking for clarification. So I sent back a request at the beginning of March, but nothing since, ”says the bistro owner.

If, context requires, the criteria for obtaining ephemeral terraces were rather loose in the spring of 2020, they have hardened with the change of name. Thus, since the regulation of June 2021, it is for example prohibited to use pallet wood to build its terrace and even to install there, when it is located on a parking space, “furniture such as stools, benches , eat standing up “.

Lack of interlocutor

And the control is finicky, sometimes too much according to Nika, owner of Supra Cave near rue de Belleville (20th arrondissement). “I made three requests, one in early January, one in early February and one in mid-March, he lists. And while I had the authorization for last summer, this year, I suffered two refusals, largely unfounded since I am accused of overflowing beyond the parking line and exceeding 1, 30 m which is not the case at all. The only proven criticism was that my terrace hid the gutter and interfered with the work of the garbage collectors. I edited this point but still no feedback. “What annoys him is that there is” no one as interlocutor “and that” never a person came to check my terrace “.

“Faced with the many requests, there are one or two months of processing”, indicates the town hall of Paris which adds that “the requests are studied as they arrive”. And the process is quite long since the file is first examined by the departments of urban planning and roads and travel, before being transferred to the borough hall for opinion as well as to the prefecture of Police for the roads concerned then to return to the central town hall for a final decision.

Today, according to figures from the municipality, there have been 2,600 authorizations for terraces out of approximately 12,000 requests. “Refusal cases are often linked to poorly completed files so when they are returned, management has to look back on it and that takes time. Another point put forward by the town hall of Paris is that, this year, the acceptance is tacit renewal for the following years, which requires a careful examination of the applications.

“You had to apply in January-February, or even at the end of 2021”

“It’s pipeau!, assures Nicolas El Hakim, president of the restaurateurs of Umih Ile-de-France. In reality, there is only one person per borough to manage the files [un chiffre démenti par la mairie de Paris]. They are overwhelmed and it is very difficult to get feedback. This is why he regrets that some of his colleagues got there too late: “You had to apply in January-February, or even at the end of 2021.” His organization had proposed that in the event of non- answer, the restaurateurs could install their terrace which they obviously demonstrated in the event of a negative answer, but this request remained a dead letter.

This is also a bit of what Bertrand tried to do, by delimiting the space of his future terrace before having permission, but a visit from the municipal police forced him to pack up his equipment. With the result, to have “lost a lot of customers in May”. “It’s dramatic for us, engages Nicolas El Hakim. We need these terraces, after everything we’ve been through with the Covid. Especially since these famous terraces can be expensive to manufacture. 5,500 euros for Nika, who called on the same carpenter as for her interior to ensure continuity. In addition, he stores his terrace in an agricultural shed for rent but will have to free up the space so that the farmer can bring in these crops. “I wanted to hire a person for the summer, but for lack of authorization, I do not do it”, deplores the wine merchant who claims to have “always done everything in the rules”.

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