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Outdoor seating for The Uptown approved by Wadena City Council

The Wadena City Council gave its blessing to a restaurant owner to add an outdoor seating area.

Jim Formanek, owner of The Uptown, presented plans to build an outdoor dining area in what is currently the building's parking lot. A dumpster would be moved, the outdoor dining area would be handicap accessible and about five tables with umbrellas are planned.

Formanek said he hopes to have the project done in August.

The plan Formanek presented to the council involved a 4-foot fence around the dining area. He said that height was short enough to be aesthetically pleasing, but a shorter fence would present a safety and insurance liability issue.

Police Chief Bruce Uselman said since The Uptown serves liquor, he would rather see a 5-foot high fence so people don't lean over and give liquor to minors or commit other liquor violations.

Mayor Wayne Wolden said there are many outdoor dining establishments in St. Paul with short or no fences, and people still control their liquor.

Council members also discussed whether to make an ordinance against smoking in outdoor seating areas. Without an ordinance, it is up to the business owner.

Council Member Don Niles said it is a public health issue, and the outdoor dining area would be in close proximity to the senior center and senior apartments.

Formanek agrees the decision of whether or not to allow outdoor seating smoking should fall to him as the business owner.

"I'm the one that's going to make or break," he said, adding he would not build if the council would dictate the issue to him.

The council later approved the motion to allow the 4-foot fence.