Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
In 2021, Root + Barrel, located adjacent to Town Hall on Main Street in Franklin served 38,000 patrons. As a full service restaurant, the restaurant doubles as an event venue, meeting space, and “go-to” spot for locals and visitors alike.
After being denied the option of expanding outdoor seating in April 2021, Greg Murphy, co-owner of Root + Barrel once again spoke to members of the Franklin Town Council asking for an option to expand outdoor seating.
Murphy said the restaurant would like to be able to add 40 more seats in the alley. Normal full capacity inside is 150 — the patio would allow the restaurant to expand capacity while also serving patrons who routinely ask for additional outdoor seating options.
“With COVID19, the addition of outdoor seating would also better allow us to serve our customers in a safe manner,” said Murphy on Monday night.
Murphy said the ABC Board has viewed the area and gave recommendations regarding needs for alcohol to be served.
The town of Franklin owns the property adjacent to the Root + Barrel, which is currently an alley way that connects to a parking lot. Murphy is asking to purchase or lease less than a half an acre of property owned by the town for the development into an outdoor seating patio.
In April 2021, Council member David Culpepper spoke in support of the project, specifically citing the town’s comprehensive plan, which encourages the town to look at ways to transform alley ways into outdoor dining for local businesses.
“One element we talked about was converting alleyways into dining opportunities and this goes along with that perfectly,” he said.
The town’s comprehensive plan’s top three improvement priorities include converted/improved alley connectors, second floor business uses, and public art. The Root + Barrel proposed addressing the public art and converted alleyway as approved by the town in the comprehensive plan. However, at the time, then-Mayor Bob Scott said that he did not believe the space between the restaurant and the town hall building qualified as an alleyway. The only other alleyway located on Main Street before the red light is a connected walking path to access the back parking lot.
Franklin Mayor Jack Horton told Murphy that the council, which has an entirely different makeup of members this year, would take the request under advisement and make a decision in the coming months.