Well, we guess you have to start somewhere.

But it would seem that only in Germantown would eating on a restaurant patio constitute a blow for smart growth.

And yet, four G’town businesses are willing to take this bold step in urban living – American Café, Atlanta Bread Co., Starbucks and Yia Yia’s Café.

We’re not quite sure why this is news enough to grab big headlines and an oversized photo in The Commercial Appeal since all four of these restaurants have had outside dining for years, but maybe it’s all in the packaging.

After all, the restaurants did agree to ante up those 2-for-1 drink coupons to entice Germantown residents out of their suburban cocoons and to engage in this bold experiment. Apparently, however, smart growth has a time when it works best because the coupons are only available on the patios from 5-7 p.m. Fridays in October.

Of course, it’s not lost on us that every one of these four places has patio dining that overlooks an asphalt parking lot, shattering the façade of smart growth before it’s even had time to root.

As explained by a member of the city’s economic development advisory committee, patio drinking is “consistent with smart growth, which is to cause more interaction and more vibrancy within the central business district in Germantown.”

And miracle of miracles, the vision is that people on the patios will strike up conversations, a small step toward town square behavior.

We’re all for it, and we don’t want to puncture the enthusiasm for smart growth that is building in Germantown. We’d just get more excited if participating in this patio dining didn’t require every one to get in their cars and drive to the restaurants to engage in it.