BAY CITY, MI - Bay City’s Feet on the Street outdoor dining initiative is returning for 2021 after a successful first year.The program was originally
BAY CITY, MI – Bay City’s Feet on the Street outdoor dining initiative is returning for 2021 after a successful first year.
The program was originally launched in 2020 to allow businesses to expand their seating areas outdoors into selected streets while redirecting vehicle traffic, with the ultimate goal oh helping boost local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It turned out good, the community response – everyone was rallied around us. People loved the outside stuff, it was just a good vibe. They created a completely different downtown Bay City for the summer, it was different, it was cool,” said Kurt Busard, chief operating officer at DRI.
DRI operates Tavern 101 and City Hall in Bay City, both of which had outdoor dining setups during Feet on the Street’s first debut. For restaurants like those owned by DRI, the sidewalk cafe setups and the Feet on the Street program was a lifeline throughout a summer filled with indoor dining restrictions.
“It helped stabilize what we had going,” Busard said. “There’s no way we could have financially supported ourselves without it.”’
Busard credited the city for stepping up to make the program happen.
“The Bay City government was very crucial in making things happen for us, they shut the roads down, Dana Muscott has been amazing to work with and the things that she does for us you can’t quantify that kind of person, she’s just very into making things happen,” Busard said.
The Bay City commission unanimously approved two measures to help local businesses get the ball rolling on setting up outdoor venues this spring. An ordinance amendment that expanded the start of the sidewalk café season and a resolution that allows for “social districts”, which allow patrons to consume alcoholic beverages sold by specially licensed vendors, to continue existing in 2021, were both approved during the Monday, March 15 regular commission meeting.
Busard said that he would like to see the program return each year to Bay City, even after the COVID-19 pandemic is gone.
“I think it is a thing that we found success in and we found that it’s beneficial for our business to have that. It’s an attraction, it’s more than just seating,” Busard said. “It turns Bay City into a destination and we have this beautiful riverfront on both sides, Midland Street and Downtown – let’s take advantage of what we have, let’s promote it and let’s do the right stuff and make it a true destination and people coming from all over the area.”
To make the Feet on the Street program a reality and to keep patrons safe, city crews will soon be installing barricades to block off selected streets to allow local businesses to install their outdoor dining setups.
On the east side, portions of Center Avenue and Saginaw St. will close beginning Monday, April 26. This area includes Center Avenue between Saginaw St. and Washington Avenue, as well as Saginaw St. between 5th St. and Center Avenue, according to the city.
The city is also planning on closing 3rd St. between N. Water St. and Saginaw St. and Adams St. from Center Avenue north to just beyond the City Market from Memorial Day to Labor Day as a part of the Feet on the Street program.
On the west side, portions of three different streets will close in the Midland Street Business District. According to the city, Linn St. between East Vermont St. and East Midland St. and the 600 block of East Midland St. between Henry and Linn streets) will close on May 1. The closure of the 500 block of E. Midland St. between Catherine and Henry streets will take place on weekends only, from 2:30 p.m. Friday until 7:00 a.m. Monday, according to the city, but Henry St. will remain open to vehicular traffic during the Feet on the Street closures.
The Midland Street Business District closures are permitted by the city to last through end of November.
Last year, crews installed removable bollards and cement barriers, some of which were decorated by local artists, to restrict traffic and block vehicles from driving down the closed roadways. According to a statement from the city, Bay City is currently examining the addition of more bollards this year based on need, location, and the wishes of the individual areas. Locations without the bollards will be closed to vehicular traffic using standard barriers, said the city.
According to the city, the businesses taking part in this effort have applied for and received proper licensing through Bay City and the State of Michigan’s Liquor Control Commission and those businesses have to adhere to guidelines regulating where alcohol can be served and consumed.
“Please ask if you have questions and be supportive of businesses adhering to these rules. For example, an alcoholic drink purchased at one business can be consumed at the business or common area – but the drink can not then be taken into a second business. Only alcoholic drinks purchased at a participating business can be consumed in common areas,” said a statement from the city.
All State of Michigan and Bay City laws apply, including but not limited to those prohibiting public intoxication, impaired driving, open containers and serving alcohol to minors, said the city.
A map of parking options can be accessed online at https://www.downtownbaycity.com/downtown-map/.
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