DTSB First Fridays continue to persevere through the pandemic

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Downtown South Bend’s Annual St. Patrick’s parade and Paddy Party will not be happening this year, but that does not mean there are no other ways to celebrate! DTSB is putting on ShamRock & Roll for March’s First Friday.

Guests can find special deals like at Baker’s Bar and Grill who are featuring a menu of Irish food and green beer. Plus, any guests who stop in wearing St. Patrick’s Day attire will get 10% off! Fiddler’s Hearth is also offering 10% off certain entrees, and LaSalle Kitchen and Tavern is putting on a Friday fish fry. Do not miss out on a deal at Jack’s Donuts – buy one drink for one free donut!

Last March, DTSB put on their last first Friday for the next several months. Then, after rethinking how things were done, they were able to create a safe model. Typically, first Fridays could see up to 15,000 people. Now, crowds are limited to 100. DTSB focuses on spreading out groups of people among businesses, rather than having them gather in one space. Still, even this Friday, guests can expect a “drop- in distanced dancing” at Studebaker Plaza.

As the weather shifts and vaccine rollouts increase, DTSB says they are hopeful for larger turnouts. This summer, they plan to block off streets downtown for outdoor block parties and potentially increase crowd sizes.

Kylie Carter with DTSB explains supporting these businesses now is crucial for the future of first Fridays.  

“The businesses have not been able to have the full capacity that they are normally used to. And so, if we want to make sure these businesses are still around after this is all over. We need to really invest now to keep them afloat and alive,” says Carter.

Additionally, DTSB has created the TakeOut25 Initiative. The team is calling on South Bend to spend $25 on carryout from a downtown South Bend restaurant once a week. Supporters sign a petition and join a dedicated Facebook group. Currently, the group is up to 556 members. Not only does the initiative result in delicious food, but there is a prize. After picking up your yummy meal, snap a photo and add it to the Facebook page, and you will be entered in a monthly drawing for a $100 gift card to the establishment you posted!

The initiative is hoping to increase participation in first Fridays and continue to grow downtown South Bend. DTSB says in order for these restaurants to survive the pandemic, community support is needed. If enough people participate, this initiative can have a major impact.

“If at least 10% of South Bend’s population were to commit to this $25 a week, it would bring an additional 20,000 a month to our downtown restaurants, so it is a huge impact for just a little commitment. I mean I have no problem spending $25 in our downtown restaurants because there is so many awesome choices,” says Carter.  

For further information about First Fridays and DTSB, visit here.

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