Three outdoor cafes to open on Tartu's Emajõgi from next week

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Construction of an outdoor cafe on the banks of the Emajõgi River in Tartu. Source: ERR

Starting next week, restaurants can once again allow people on outdoor terraces and busy construction on is currently taking place on Tartu's Emajõgi River. The three seasonal cafes allowed on the river received a ten-year permit after tight competition.

By next Monday, when restrictions regarding restaurants and bars will be eased, only a mojito-bar will be opened, however.

"The contract states the cafes should be open from June 1, but it's the entrepreneurs' desire to get them ready as fast as possible. They are in different stages of development: Väike Kuuba is set to open on May 3, the others will take some time. An estimated time for opening is mid-May," said head of Tartu's business development department Alo Lilles.

25 different companies applied for a permit to open cafes on Emajõgi River. The city made their choices while accounting for the offered rental price, construction solutions and the concept of service. Two of the chosen cafes, Väike Kuuba and Cafe Chef have been in the same location previously, although with a smaller building. The tightest competition was for the middle plot, for which Gustav Cafe will pay nearly €24,000 yearly to the city.

"It has been a long-time dream to put one on Emajõgi River. When the previous plot-owner was here, we came by often. It is a nice place to be," said Gustav Cafe board member Siim Liivamägi.

"Construction will cost in the region of a few hundred thousand euros. It is a rather large investment but the desire to do it was too great," he added.

Six years ago, the City of Tartu decided that the riverfront promenade in the city center could benefit from seasonal cafes. Three properties were put up for offer free of charge, and activity licenses were granted to those who offered the most attractive visions for cafes.

Until last year, three summer cafes were allowed to operate on the river's promenade without paying rent for the land. Since the activity on the riverbank began to grow, as did entrepreneur interest, which led to the city having to announce a public contest.

Alo Lilles said Tartu is moving in the direction of having cafes in other locations than the banks of Emajõgi River. No dates or locations have been set yet, however.

"Whether on the Naiiv-side, to either direction, or near the Tartu Market, if you go from the market building toward Anne channel - the entire riverbank is unused today. There are definitely opportunities to refresh it," Lilles said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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