Anne Arundel County

Judge denies Dock Street Bar and Grill lawsuit against city of Annapolis over outdoor dining area

Staff of Dock Street Bar and Grill are preparing to take down an outside dining tent after a judge denied the restaurant’s lawsuit against the city of Annapolis.

The Dock Street Bar and Grill sued the city Thursday after a city planning and zoning employee informed the restaurant it had until Monday to take down a large tent the restaurant shared with neighboring eatery Armadillo Grill. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Morris denied the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on Friday.


Morris did not write an explanation as part of her ruling.

“The City prevailed at this stage in the lawsuit,” City Attorney D. Michael Lyles said in a statement. “But we remain in productive conversations with Dock Street businesses. The recovery zones have always been a balance of enhancing business opportunities, ensuring public safety and protecting the public health.”


The lawsuit stated the city wants Dock Street Bar and Grill to scale back its outdoor area to two parking spaces without a shared tent. It currently shares four parking spaces and an overhead tent with Armadillo Grill. The city’s recovery zones — areas around the city where businesses utilize sidewalks, parklets and parking lots to reduce coronavirus transmission indoors — are creating traffic jams as tables and tents occupy some streets.

Foot and car traffic in Annapolis returned to a normal speed as the pandemic waned and people ventured back out to shop and dine. Recovery zones have been restructured on other streets, including Main Street and Maryland Avenue.

Annapolis’ approved an emergency ordinance to extend the use of recovery zones for outdoor dining and shopping until November.

Chris Buck, an attorney representing Dock Street Enterprises Inc., said the city is unfairly treating restaurant owners and staff based on location. Buck said the restaurant was told its designated recovery area zone is a “public safety issue” since cars can’t travel both directions as normal. After Morris denied its lawsuit, the restaurant asked the city for a few more feet for its designated zone so staff don’t have to take away tables and lose valuable tips. Buck said he’s waiting to hear back.

“That’s what pays the rent for people who don’t have the (state) unemployment benefits anymore. So it’s a double whammy if you take away the tables and take away their ability to supplement their income, especially now that (restaurants) are finally back at it.”

Restaurants relied on outdoor dining to sustain business during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and the peak of restrictions on indoor capacity, because the virus does not spread as easily outside.