Fundraising Campaign to Help Centre Street Bizs Adapt to New Reality of Outdoor Seating and More

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Restaurants are now allowed to have customers inside at a reduced capacity, and to help offset the loss of customers, outdoor seating has been expanded for many eateries.

To help cover some of the costs for businesses due to the pandemic, JP Centre/South Main Streets is holding a fundraising campaign to pay for things such as outdoor seating. The campaign runs through July 22 and has a target goal of $40,000, and as of July 8 had raised $3,545. JP Centre/South Main Streets is also letting customers know that businesses are open by asking them to put an orange balloon outside of their location.

Business owners David Doyle of a trio of restaurants Tres Gatos, Little Dipper, and Casa Verde, and David Warner of City Feed & Supply, recently partnered to purchase the required jersey barriers (water-filled) for outdoor seating areas.

Orange means open on Centre Street (JP Centre/South Main Streets)

"For two spaces, each requiring three barriers each, for a total of six barriers, the total cost was over $3,300 to these business owners," said Ginger Brown, Executive Director of JP Centre/South Main Streets. "The shipping alone was over $700. This leaves little money left to get the actual chairs and tables. We are hoping that our campaign can help alleviate these costs for businesses who made it through the shutdown without any income."

The city recently announced retailers can temporarily extend outside of their stores for sidewalk sales. But that also brings risks such as security and weather said Brown. The campaign would help address those concerns.

To further assist restaurants, eateries can request an accessibility ramp from the city if they're permitted for outdoor seating. The ramp initiative is being funded by a $200,000 grant given to the city. Ramps will be given on a rolling basis with an accessibility toolkit that contains information on setting up the ramp, as well best practices on providing service to customers with disabilities. Ramps will be returned to the city at the end of the season and used in other initiatives.

Brown said that JP Local First and JP Centre/South Main Streets have also partnered to contract designers to create seating plans that can be installed at a variety of price points for restaurants. Those designs are now available to businesses to use at their discretion and customize to their location.