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CCDC Considers '16-Inch Difference of Opinion' With Ruth's Chris

"We're not restaurant people, we're public service people. And if we allow this exception, we could be facing other requests. What we're talking about is a 16-inch difference of opinion and whether we should use a tree grate as walking space."

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It was all about 16 inches.

One of the longer discussions to mark the June 10 meeting of the Capital City Development Corporation concerned a unique request from the soon-to-be Ruth's Chris steakhouse restaurant, one of the ground floor tenants of the Eighth and Main Tower, which is still under construction.

Ruth's Chris has designs to include sidewalk dining through its alcove facing Eighth Street, but it wants to stretch that dining area onto the sidewalk. The problem is that the Eighth and Main building is 10-feet further east than any of the buildings on the west side of Eighth, effectively leaving less than 4-feet of usable patio space.

"You're the landlords of the busiest stretch of sidewalk in Downtown Boise," CCDC Parking and Facilities Director Max Clark told CCDC commissioners. "And frankly, we don't expect that to change."

But Clark added that, "We're not restaurant people, we're public service people. And if we allow this exception, we could be facing other requests. What we're talking about is a 16-inch difference of opinion and whether we should use a tree grate as walking space."

But Geoff Wardle, Vice President of Development for the Gardner Company, representing Ruth's Chris, reminded the commissioners that his clients have retail dining experience, "And we bring people into town."

Wardle was hoping that commissioners would allow the extension, which would require pedestrians to walk over grates surrounding some of the trees that line the street.

"I don't think this works," said Boise Council Member and CCDC Commissioner Lauren McLean. "We're talking about women in heels walking over these grates."

Ultimately, CCDC commissioners balked at the request and asked Wardle to regroup with Ruth's Chris about keeping its outside dining but not infringing on sidewalk space that would push pedestrians to the grates.

But Wardle and his clients were encouraged to hear that CCDC commissioners were open to the idea of offering valet parking, with two parking spaces designated for the service after 5 p.m.

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