Bridgman, St. Joe bringing dine-in to the streets
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- Some Berrien County communities are opening up to the idea of designated outdoor dining areas where people can get more of an experience of downtown.
Over the July 4 holiday last summer, Pleasant Street Plaza in St. Joseph was born.
Silver Harbor Brewing Company and 221 Main filling the street with tables, chairs and games so visitors could get that summertime experience that had been missing from the pandemic.
“We saw the fast moving trend of bringing the inside of restaurants outside, so we reached out to our neighbor Silver Harbor Brewing, we brought the idea to the city and since last year went so well, we’re going to block the street for the summer and Pleasant Street Plaza will be active all week long,” said Robert Montgomery, owner of 221 Main Restaurant & Cocktail House.
Now, they’re heading into year two already with the OK from the city for five more years.
Just south in Bridgman, officials approved a social district for all of a Lake Street, a concept that differs a little bit from what’s happening at Pleasant Street when it comes to openly carrying alcoholic drinks.
“Michigan established social district legislation on July 1 of 2020 in direct response to the pandemic, it was a way to give hospitality businesses extra flexibility in serving customers to-go so they’re not limited by indoor capacity restrictions,” said Arthur Havlicek President & CEO of the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber.
Despite pandemic restrictions relaxing in Michigan, businesses are still heading into a second summer under COVID-19 guidelines and say the ability to be innovative will be a huge help.
“We don’t have to turn people away on a busy Saturday, people want to be outside anyway and we’re limited on our outdoor space so this opens it up and allows us to use our town and people can see more places,” said Lauren Kniebes, co-owner of Lazy Ballerina Winery.
St. Joe’s Pleasant Street Plaza kicks off the Friday of Memorial weekend, while Bridgman’s social district is just awaiting the final sign-off from Michigan’s Liquor Control Commission.