WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem is testing street dining for downtown restaurants.
Two blocks of Fourth Street have been transformed into the “Streatery.”
The event started at 5 p.m. and within 30 minutes, restaurants were at full capacity.
The event will last until 10 p.m. Diners are eating at tables set up along Fourth Street between Trade and Marshall streets.
“We believe this will be a nice way to make people aware that our downtown restaurants are open and available for business,” said Jason Thiel, president of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership.
During the pandemic outdoor seating has become a survival option.
“It will be really nice for those restaurants, especially that are newer, to be, one, exposed to the public and, two, to have outdoor seating, because a lot of them only have one or two tables that are out on their sidewalk,” said Will Kingery, chef and co-owner of King’s Crab Shack.
Outdoor seating at the Streatery still follows social distancing guidelines and masks will be required until diners are at their table.
Patrons will be allowed to drink beer, wine and mixed drinks only at their tables. They may not carry alcoholic drinks from one restaurant or business to another. Patrons will be required to wear masks to and from their tables, according to a City of Winston-Salem news release.
“We want to bring people out, but keep them safe and let them have a good time and enjoy dining out, but still feel safe. A lot of people, even the front door, just going in and out of the same door, deters people from coming in,” Kingery said.
For restaurants that have limited to no patio seating, this program is an opportunity to welcome people back.
“Biggest challenge is that they have are the mindset of people and the demand for people coming downtown and that’s really where this comes in is that I think demand can be increased if we increase the availability of outdoor dining,” Thiel said.
If all goes well, there’s a chance the program could expand to additional blocks downtown.
“I think as long as they see that it’s done safely and that it is effective for the businesses, I think they are going to be keen to allow us to do it,” Thiel said.