Melbourne Outdoor Dining Summer 2020

Covid-19 has made a huge impact on so many areas of business, including the restaurants and cocktail bars of central Melbourne.

A new strategy has been devised (based on New York’s Open Restaurants plan) which will see inner city laneways handed over to outdoor dining. The strategy for Melbourne will see a mix of footpath dining and repurposing street car parking through to complete takeovers of city laneways and dining in parks.

It’s a bold move and will be a great shot in the arm for restaurants who want to serve customers and ensure staff are working as safely as possible. The six main areas of focus for al fresco dining are as follows: Bourke Street East (CBD) – Russell Street (CBD) – Lygon Street (Carlton) – Errol Street (North Melbourne) – Domain Road (South Yarra) – Bellair Street (Kensington). Here is a list of the 16 designated precincts across Melbourne from The Age newspaper.

Melbourne’s weather will no doubt occasionally create challenges. But I take an optimistic view when you consider the extensive outdoor dining options locals have enjoyed for years including Hardware Lane and Degraves Street, alongside Queen Victoria and South Melbourne Markets. 

There some great restaurant outdoor precincts including Spring Street outside The European and City Wine Shop, plus Bourke Street outside Grossi Florentino and Ombra. Plus Melbourne’s famous rooftop bars and dining spaces. These unique venues are definitely an aspect of Melbourne’s hospitality scene that have made the city the food destination it is.

I’d suggest we will see some significant changes in the numbers of guests allowed in these venues. The days of elbow to elbow bar service and lots of people mingling, talking and drinking together will be out for some time. Instead expect timed bookings, seated food and drinks at a table, or standing drinks and food at designated spot for a hour or two. It will be different, but we are Melbournian’s and will adapt, then embrace this new way.

Outdoor eating and drinking is nothing new for Melbourne of course, we have a great array of rooftop and outdoor venues in and close to the city. These are incredibly popular and I’d suggest these new precincts will be highly sought after too. 

Check out my list of five favourite rooftop cocktail bars in Melbourne.