TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - An initiative to expand outdoor dining for downtown businesses is back on and will take place starting this Friday and Saturday.
Connie Wrin who owns The Verve created "Eat in the Streets," and it quickly gained support of other local restaurants. However, organizers pulled it abruptly just a day before it was supposed to start in late August. At the time, News 10 obtained a document with guidelines for the businesses, but some owners voiced concerns about what was outlined. The Vigo County Health Department said the document was just a place to start and could've been adjusted.
George Azar, owner of Saratoga, and Wrin met with Vigo County Health Commissioner Dr. Darren Brucken and City of Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett to evaluate paths forward. They had discussions and created a joint document. It provides guidance and recommendations for all participating restaurants which comply with state and local health restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“In pushing back the start, we have had the opportunity to work collaboratively with downtown business owners in re-examining the details of the “Eat in the Streets” concept, collectively tailoring details of the activity to ensure businesses and residents the opportunity to enjoy expanded outdoor seating options in our beautiful downtown area, while providing the safest environment possible during this pandemic,” explained Dr. Brucken. “It ultimately remains the individual responsibility of our area residents to conduct themselves responsibly at all times, maintaining social distancing and wearing masks as often as possible to help keep our community safe.”
The Chamber and its Downtown Main Street initiative have agreed to cover the cost of having picnic tables and other items re-delivered. This effort will ensure no tax payer dollars are used on the project. Many other downtown businesses and organizations have stepped up to donate services to the initiative. To create a safe environment for diners to enjoy a meal outside, large barriers provided by the Miracle on 7th Street Board of Directors will be used to safely block closed streets. The SkyGarden parking garage will provide parking for $1 throughout the day on Friday and Saturday.
The Board of Public Works approved plans to close two sections of Wabash Avenue. Closures begin Thursday at midnight to Sunday at 3:00 a.m.
- The corner of 7th Street to J. Gumbo’s will be closed.
- The corner of 5th Street to Taco & Tequila’s will be closed.
- All other streets will remain open.
- The First Financial Bank drive-thru will remain open and accessible.
- The Skygarden Parking Garage will remain open and accessible via Ohio Street.
- The Hilton parking lot entrance and exit on Wabash, west of the VCSC Administration building will remain open. The lot east of the building will remain accessible via the east-end of the alley between Wabash and Cherry streets, off of 7th Street.
If successful, local restaurants will ask the Terre Haute Board of Works to extend the street closures through the end of the year.
“Finding a way to provide safe, outdoor dining for the community has always has been the main priority of the downtown restaurants who initially created this idea of extending their outdoor dining areas. Fortunately for everyone, they persevered and have found a way to move forward,” says Kristin Craig, President of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Main Street initiative.