Belmont introduces open street dining to help downtown restaurants

Updated: May. 25, 2020 at 4:02 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Under Phase 2 of North Carolina’s reopening, restaurants are allowed to open their dining rooms, but only at a 50 percent capacity.

With half the amount of diners they could potentially seat, it is still a struggle for many of these businesses trying to stay afloat.

The City of Belmont is trying to make that a little easier for restaurants along its Main Street.

Sammy’s Pub attributes the activity at their business, and others along Main Street Monday, to what happened there over the weekend.

Saturday night, the street was shut down to vehicle traffic, and opened to diners.

The city set up chairs and tables for some social distancing dining, right there on the asphalt, to support nearby restaurants and shops.

“What that allowed us to do was pick up the seats outside that we lost inside,” Sammy’s Pub owner John Bailey said. “So basically, we had a full restaurant.”

Bailey said it gave him an opportunity to bring more staff in for the night.

“That meant a lot more money coming in for the servers that had been struggling through the hard times with the COVID," he said. ”The kitchen was full, the bar was full.”

City Manager Adrian Miller said the city plans to continue this every Friday and Saturday night on Main Street, for as long as there are restrictions placed on capacity within restaurants.

“We’re trying to figure it out as we go and hope we get it right more than we get it wrong," Miller said. "If it doesn’t work, we’ll try something different, but we’re here to support our businesses.”

For now, it is something to keep the city buzzing.

“When do you ever get to eat dinner in the middle of Main Street?” Miller asked. “So it was a really cool thing to do.”

And, they hope, it will keep downtown business alive.

“It’s been really sad the last two months to see businesses closed, and see the lights off," Miller said. "We’ve been working really hard to keep the lights on in Belmont.”

“It makes you feel good,” Bailey said, of his busy dining room. “It makes you feel like you’ve done something right.”

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