The street closure allows restaurants like Nick's English Hut the opportunity to make patrons feel more safe with spaced outdoor seating.
(Mitch Legan, WTIU/WFIU News)
The closure of Kirkwood Avenue to allow for more outdoor seating for restaurants will likely continue this weekend, if weather permits.
City Director for Economic Sustainability Alex Crowley said feedback from last weekend’s trial run was overwhelmingly positive from both business owners and customers.
He said one of the few complaints came from merchants who thought the concept wasn’t promoted enough.
“Admittedly, we were doing it a little bit under the radar just because we didn’t want a massive festival atmosphere to evolve unexpectedly," Crowley said. "I think as time goes on people will start to expect it."
Crowley says now the city will consider expanding this strategy to other downtown streets.
"I think what we’re going to do is give this Kirkwood process a little time to marinate and then as we’re doing that, look around town and see where are the other places that want this," Crowley said.
Crowley said a potential area could be on Fourth Street between Dunn and Grant, where there is also a high concentration of restaurants.
“One thing that I’m curious about is to what extent does it have a direct economic impact on the establishments themselves," Crowley said. "The metrics of that remain to be seen.”
Crowley said the merchants will have complete autonomy moving forward.
"The city isn't going to go ahead and unilaterally make the call," Crowley said. "We would like to get affected merchants organized and have them tell us what they want."
The city will evaluate the economic activity downtown week-by-week and adjust to what business owners are seeing from customers.
For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here.