When I lived in Europe, eternally blessed to live for two years in the Netherlands and able to travel rather extensively, patio culture (and the doors on everyone’s houses) were the main shocks to my system.
Well, those and the clear absence of systemic racism. But that’s another story.
For this story, there’s nothing like sitting on a patio under the sun, dapper Dutchies and other internationals having a smoke, sipping a Jupiler or some other wildly fantastic beer the Europeans have that we don’t. And while I’m happy to be in the States, in love with my work, and more than content with our local cuisine and bar scene, the fact remains: our patios are pretty basic.
Some places in Colorado do go wild on their patios. I’m thinking of Recess in LOHI, or any of the large (if boring) rooftop patios that surround Coors Field. What’s absolutely beautiful for someone who loves the sun, and sips, and socializing – especially in a world of interaction hobbled by the Coronavirus *shakes fist at the air* is the expansion of patios we’re witnessing across the region.
Erie has moved the Farmer’s market from the 500 block of Briggs St. to the 600 block of Briggs in order to support the patio expansion for restaurants (see image). I can’t remember the last time I was really excited about hanging out in downtown Erie. Sorry.
Boulder, in a similar move, has allowed for places the The Sink to take over sections of Pennsylvania Ave to expand their patio seating. Gorgeous. Twisted Pine brewing already had a huge parking lot, part of which they surrendered to the patio renaissance to build out a massive, one-way only patio for revelers. Masks optional but, seriously, we’re eating and drinking so that’s hard.
Point is, Colorado is responding, necessarily, to the Coronavirus shut down and recent reopening by reimagining the ways we consume, the ways we chill, the places we eat. Yeah yeah, I know, we’ve had patios. True. I’m talking about the expansion, the streets being surrendered, the Europeanization of our relationship to the agora, to democratic spaces, to each other.
Layer on top of the patio renaissance our national reevaluation of our public relationship to alcohol, and we have the workings for a revitalization of public culture. Many have argued, I wouldn’t be the first, that Europe has less alcoholism because of the ubiquitous nature of it. It’s everywhere. Kids are taught to drink responsibly, with parents and friends who drink responsibly, and don’t grow up with that “it’s so taboo and illegal so let me go overboard” attitude that many young Americans have, which leads to abuse.
Let’s continue to allow take out drinks, public consumption, and continue to evolve. We may get to a great place.
I find it all very important, and beautiful. More public places to relax together. Less roads means less cars, which means less chance of injury. This is a positive development especially in our downtowns. It’s a good thing for humanity, and the earth, and the ways we eat and drink. And especially for my sun tan.