Business

Downtown restaurants react to reopening Friday with outdoor seating only

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Tuesday’s announcement that restaurants in Indianapolis could reopen Friday with outside dining only came as a big surprise to many restaurant owners and managers.

Some say they are just happy to be taking a step forward.

Managers of Indianapolis restaurants say they had been working on plans to open up their indoor dining areas at 50% capacity as many other counties throughout Indiana have done. When they heard reopening indoor seating wouldn’t be happening until June, they had some planning to do.

“We can make all the plans we want until the rubber meets the road, then we will have to react and see how it goes,” said Jimmy Brejcha, general manager of The District Tap, downtown at 141 S. Meridian St.

On Tuesday, Mayor Joe Hogsett and city leaders announced new measures aimed at helping restaurants and small businesses safely reopen. In addition to the outdoor seating starting Friday, the measures included “fast-tracked permitting and limited street closures creating five pedestrian-friendly corridors with high concentrations of commercial activity,” the city said.

The soon-to-be-closed streets will act as temporary sidewalks to allow plenty of room for social distancing.

“We will clear as many obstacles as we can to make sure you (restaurants) are here when Indianapolis resumes our status as one of America’s great host cities,” Hogsett said in a video news conference.

Goodfellas Pizza, 545 Massachusetts Ave., and other restaurants in the Mass Ave. Cultural District they say the transition will be pretty simple. Their customers get their food at the counter, and the restaurant already has outside seating.

“Getting more tables out but making sure everyone is safe. We still have the distancing rules and all of that,” said Zach Beuch, Goodfellas Pizza kitchen manager .

Full-service restaurants — including The District Tap and World of Beer, also on Massachusetts Avenue — have a few more logistics to work out before Friday.

Brejcha from District Tap said, “We are probably going to take the patio tables and put them out there because they are meant for all-weather and then we will take some of our indoor tables and put them on the patio so that maybe we can have 20 tables instead of just eight.”

Some customers says they looking forward to the new dining experience.

Weather will play a bigger factor in business now that customers can only eat outside and restaurants can’t set up tents or umbrellas.

Goodfellas’ Beuch said, “Most people that come in, they understand that we have to follow a certain set of rules if we want to get back to whatever the new normal is or whatever the old normal was.”

As downtown restaurants prepare to reopen, many of them are trying to look to the bright side of this new normal.

“So for us to go from only being able to do carryout to being able to seat eight tables and serve them, it is a plus. It is more than we have today,” Brejcha said.

Some of the full-service restaurants opening on Friday still plan to use their silverwear unless a customer requests something disposable.

For many of them, they say reopening will be something they figure out as they go.

Dan Parker, from the city’s Public Works department, said in the video news conference that “what we are going to work with businesses on is at the time Solid Waste will pick up trash in these corridors each morning. All of these areas will still be accessible for emergency vehicles as well. We will work with business to have deliveries done at that time period.”

The restaurants will need a city permit to move outdoors; those will be free of charge from the Bureau of Neighborhood Services.

The street closures could last until the state enters Phase 5 of the Back on Track plan on the Fourth of July weekend, but that doesn’t mean indoor seating won’t be available before that date.

Statements

“There’s been some confusion about when a restaurant needs to apply for a temporary outdoor seating permit, so I wanted to clarify.

“IF a restaurant has an existing outdoor dining area, AND is not planning to expand the space, they do NOT need to apply for a temporary outdoor seating permit. They are okay to open for outdoor dining on Friday.

“If a restaurant wants to expand an existing outdoor dining area OR if a restaurant without an existing outdoor dining area wants to add one, they must apply for a temporary outdoor seating permit.

“Restaurant owners with questions can contact dineout@indy.gov. A more in-depth FAQ can also be found at www.indy.gov/dineout.”

Brandi Pahl, chief communications officer for Indianapolis government

“Following an announcement by Mayor Joe Hogsett on Tuesday morning providing guidance for the reopening of restaurants and small businesses, the Indianapolis Department of Public Works (Indy DPW) today announces the closure of five street locations in dense commercial areas so that pedestrians may safely maintain social distancing guidelines. Locations include segments of Massachusetts Avenue, Georgia Street, Illinois Street, Broad Ripple Avenue, and Monument Circle.

“Indy DPW Director Dan Parker will order the street locations be closed by Friday, May 22, the date that restaurants may re-open with outdoor seating and partial capacity.

“‘Our first priority is pedestrian safety,’ said Director Parker. ‘Adapting these locations into pedestrian corridors will provide the extra room needed to effectively distance ourselves from one another. It may also give restaurants without outdoor seating the opportunity to re-open to patrons using street space in the public right-of-way.’

“A full description of closure locations and detours is below. Information for restaurants seeking to re-open with outdoor dining is at indy.gov/dineout.

“Indy DPW crews will mobilize as early as Wednesday to prepare appropriate barriers and signage at the sites of each closure. An executive order from Director Parker will effectively close the streets once these barriers and signage are installed. The order will remain in place until at least July 4, 2020.

“A copy of the executive order is here.

“Parking meters along the closed street segments will be suspended by ParkIndy throughout the ordered closure. However, motorists parking near the closure locations should be reminded that ParkIndy ambassadors will continue to enforce all parking restrictions, including metered spaces.

Road closure locations will include:

Massachusetts Avenue, from its intersection with College Avenue to its intersection with New York and Delaware streets. Cross traffic will be maintained on Alabama, New Jersey, and East streets running north-south, and on Vermont, Michigan, and North streets running east-west.

“Detour: Northeast-bound traffic on Massachusetts Avenue will detour eastbound on New York Street, then northbound on College Avenue before rejoining the route. Southwest-bound traffic on Massachusetts Avenue will detour westbound on St. Clair Street, then southwest on Ft. Wayne Avenue, then southbound on Pennsylvania Street, then eastbound on New York Street before rejoining the route.

Georgia Street, from Pennsylvania to Illinois streets. Cross traffic will be maintained on Meridian Street.

Illinois Street, from Georgia to Market streets. Cross traffic will be maintained on Washington and Maryland streets.

“Detour: Northbound traffic on Illinois Street will detour eastbound on South Street, then northbound on Delaware Street, then westbound on Ohio Street before rejoining the route. Alternatively, northbound traffic may detour westbound on South Street, then northbound bound on Missouri Street which becomes West Street, then eastbound on Ohio Street until rejoining the route.

Broad Ripple Avenue, from College Avenue to Monon Trail. Cross traffic will be maintained on Guilford and Winthrop avenues.

“Detour: Eastbound traffic traveling around the Broad Ripple Avenue closure will detour southbound on College Avenue, then eastbound on Kessler Boulevard E Drive, then northbound on Keystone Avenue, then westbound on Broad Ripple Avenue before rejoining the route. Westbound traffic on Broad Ripple Avenue will detour east to Keystone Avenue, then southbound on Keystone Avenue, then westbound on Kessler Boulevard E Drive, then northbound on College Avenue before rejoining the route. 

Monument Circle, southeast and southwest quadrants (south of Market Street). Eastbound Market Street will be restricted just east of Illinois Street on the west spoke of Monument Circle. Meridian Street between Monument Circle and Washington Street will only be open to local traffic.”

Benjamin Easley, chief communications officer, Indianapolis Department of Public Works

Coronavirus links

Indiana coronavirus timeline

With updated information from the Indiana Deaprtment of Health on May 29, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.

  • March 6: Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) confirms the first case in Indiana. Officials say the Marion County resident had recently traveled to Boston to attend a BioGen conference as a contractor.
  • March 8: ISDH confirms a second case. An adult in Hendricks County who had also traveled to the BioGen conference was placed in isolation. Noblesville Schools say a parent and that parent’s children will be self-quarantining after attending an out-of-state event where someone else tested positive.
  • March 9: Avon Community School Corp. says a student on March 8 tested positive.
  • March 10: ISDH launches an online tracker. Ball State University basketball fans learn the Mid-American Conference tourney will have no fans in the stands. Three businesses operating nursing homes in Indiana announce they will no longer allow visitors.
  • March 11: The Indianapolis-based NCAA announces the Final Four basketball tournaments will be conducted with essential staff and limited family attendance. The Big Ten announces all sports events, including the men’s basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, will have no fans starting March 12. Ball State University suspends in-person classes the rest of the spring semester. NBA suspends all games, including the Indiana Pacers, until further notice. Butler University and the University of Indianapolis extend spring break, after which they will have virtual classes.
  • March 12: Gov. Eric Holcomb announces new protections that led to extended public school closings and the cancellation of large events across the state. The NCAA cancels its basketball tournaments. The Big Ten suspends all sporting events through the winter and spring seasons. The league including the Indy Fuel hockey team suspends its season. Indy Eleven says it will reschedule four matches. Indianapolis’ annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is canceled. 
  • March 13: Indiana’s total of positive cases rises to 15. The Indiana High School Athletic Association postpones the boys basketball tournament. Wayzata Home Products, a Connersville cabinet maker, shuts down and lays off its entire workforce due to market uncertainty. Gov. Holcomb announces actions including the elimination of Medicaid co-pays for COVID-19 testing and the lifting of limits on the number of work hours per day for drivers of commercial vehicles. Franklin College says it will begin online classes March 18 and empty residence halls of students in two days. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis closes indefinitely. The Indianapolis Public Library joins other libraries across Indiana and closes all facilities indefinitely.
  • March 14: The Indiana Gaming Commission says all licensed gaming and racing operations will close in two days for an indefinite period.
  • March 15: Indiana had its first death. St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis announces it will suspend all elective, non-urgent surgeries.
  • March 16: Indiana had its second death. Gov. Holcomb announced the first Hoosier death. He closes bars, restaurants and nightclubs to in-person patrons, but maintains carryout and delivery services.
  • March 17: Indiana had its third and fourth deaths. ISDH announces Indiana’s second death. Indiana’s Catholic bishops cancel masses indefinitely. Gov. Holcomb activates the National Guard. Purdue, Butler and Indiana State universities cancel May commencement ceremonies.
  • March 18: Indiana had its fifth death. Eli Lilly and Co. says it will use its labs to speed up testing in Indiana. The 500 Festival announces suspends all events. Simon Property Group closes all malls and retail properties.
  • March 19: Gov. Holcomb extends Indiana’s state of emergency into May. Holcomb says he’ll close all K-12 public and nonpublic schools. Standardized testing was canceled. The state’s income-tax and corporate-tax payment deadline was extended to July 15. Holcomb says the state will waive job search requirements for people applying for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. The IHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament was canceled. The Marion County Emergency Operations Center upgrades to Level 1 status.
  • March 20: Indiana’s death toll rose to 9. ISDH announces Indiana’s third death. Gov. Holcomb moves the state’s primary election to June 2. Indiana University says it is postponing May commencement ceremonies on all campuses.
  • March 21: Indiana’s death toll rises to 14. ISDH announces Indiana’s fourth death. Indiana National Guard says it and the Department of Transportation are distributing medical supplies to hospitals.
  • March 22: Indiana’s death toll rises to 19. ISDH announces seven deaths.
  • March 23: Indiana’s death toll rises to 24. Holcomb orders Hoosiers deemed nonessential to “stay at home” from March 24-April 7. Eli Lilly & Co. begins drive-thru testing for the coronavirus for health care workers with a doctor’s order. Ball State University cancels the May commencement.
  • March 24: Indiana’s death toll rises to 29. Fred Payne of Indiana Workforce Development says any Hoosiers out of work, including temporary layoffs, are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits.
  • March 25: Indiana’s death toll rises to 35. Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the Indianapolis 500 is moved to Aug. 23. IndyGo suspends fares and changes its ride schedules.
  • March 26: Indiana’s death toll rises to 44.
  • March 27: Indiana’s death toll rises to 47.
  • March 28: Indiana’s death toll rises to 58.
  • March 29: Indiana’s death toll rises to 76. President Donald Trump announces in a press conference that the national social distancing recommendation will be extended by 30 days.
  • March 30: Indiana’s death toll rises to 91. Indiana health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box predicts the arrival of the surge in cases and deaths could come in mid-April to late April, but could be as late as mid-May, “but we don’t know.”
  • March 31: Indiana’s death toll rises above 100, to 113. Gov. Holcomb extends the limits of bars and restaurants to offer only “to go” and “carryout” through April 6. Health commissioner Box, asked about when Indiana will be in a surge of COVID-19 cases, says she thinks the surge is starting.
  • April 1: Officials extend Marion County’s “stay at home” order through May 1. Marion County health officials say they will start COVID-19 testing services for front-line employees. Gov. Holcomb announces the #InThisTogether campaign.
  • April 2: The state announces K-12 schools will be closed for the rest of the school year. The Indiana High School Athletic Association cancels spring sports seasons.
  • April 3: Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through April 20. The state receives a federal Major Disaster Declaration for all 92 counties. The Indiana National Guard says it, the Army Corps of Engineers and state health officials will begin to assess sites for alternate health care facilities.
  • April 4: Indiana’s death toll rises above 200.
  • April 6: The state reports a Madison County nursing home has had 11 deaths. Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through April 20. He also limits additional businesses to carry-out only.
  • April 7: Indiana’s death toll rises above 300. Indiana health commissioner Box says four long-term care facilities have 22 deaths that appear to be related to COVID-19.
  • April 10: ISDH said 24 residents of a long-term care facility in Madison County have died from COVID-related illness.
  • April 11: Indiana’s death toll rises above 400.
  • April 14: Indiana’s death toll rises above 500.
  • April 16: Tests ID more than 10,000 Hoosiers with coronavirus. The governor says he expects Indiana to experience a reopening in early May.
  • April 17: Indiana’s death toll rises above 600. The governor says that he will extend the “stay at home” order through May 1.
  • April 20: Indiana’s death toll rises above 700. Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order to May 1. The governor also says, if the medical supply chain is in good shape, other elective medical procedures can resume April 27.
  • April 22: Indiana’s death toll rises above 800. The Tyson facility in Logansport voluntarily closes so 2,200 employees can be tested for COVID-19.
  • April 24: Indiana’s death toll rises above 900. The Indianapolis City-County Council approves $25 million to help small businesses. Fishers City Council creates a city health department with a plan to test every resident.
  • April 25: ISDH says it will launch an antibody testing study for Hoosiers; thousands of residents were randomly selected to participate in the study.
  • April 27: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,000.
  • April 28: Indiana officials say they will open COVID-19 testing to more Hoosiers, with expanded criteria and new testing services at 20 sites around the state.
  • April 29: The state says it will spent $43 million on contact tracing.
  • April 30: Indianapolis extends its stay-at-home order through May 15.
  • May 1: Gov. Holcomb announces a phased reopening plan for the state of Indiana. He also extends the stay-at-home order to May 4.
  • May 3: Tests ID more than 20,000 Hoosiers with coronavirus.
  • May 4: Indiana enters Stage 2 of its Back on Track plan, which excludes Cass County until May 18, and Lake and Marion counties until May 11.
  • May 6:The state begins testing for all Hoosiers at 20 sites, with plans to expand the number of sites to 50 in a week. Ivy Tech Community College says it will continue virtual classes when summer courses begin in June. 
  • May 8: Cris Johnston, director of the Office of Budget and Management, says the state missed out on nearly $1 billion in anticipated April revenues; all state agencies will be given budget-cutting goals. Purdue University OKs plans to reopen for the fall semester with social distancing and other safety measures.
  • May 11: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,500.
  • May 13: The first phase of a state-sponsored study of the coronavirus estimated about 186,000 Hoosiers had COVID-19 or the antibodies for the novel virus by May 1. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced plans for limited reopenings of worship services, retail establishments, libraries and restaurants.
  • May 14: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,600.
  • May 17: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,700. Marion County’s death toll rises above 500.
  • May 18: Indiana reports its first case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in a child. The Farbest Foods turkey-processing plant in Huntingburg is closed for three days; 91 people have tested positive there.
  • May 21: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,800. Tests ID more than 30,000 Hoosiers with coronavirus.
  • May 22: Indiana advances to Stage 3 of the Back on Track reopening plan. Indianapolis closes portions of five streets to allow restaurants to reopen with outdoor dining only.
  • May 27: The U.S. death toll rises above 100,000. Indiana University says the fall semester will have in-person and online courses, plus an adjusted calendar through May 2021. Ball State University says the fall semester will be 13 straight weeks of in-person classes with no day off on Labor Day and no fall break.
  • May 28: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,900.
  • May 29: Places of worship in Marion County can begin holding indoor services at 50% capacity with proper social distancing. Jim Schellinger, Indiana secretary of commerce, said the federal Paycheck Protection Program has made 73,430 loans in Indiana totaling $9,379,164,461, the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan program has made 5,070 loans in Indiana totaling $445,428,500, and the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans Advance program has made 38,365 grants in Indiana totaling $136,554,000.
  • June 1: Marion County restaurants can begin serving customers indoors and outdoors with 50% capacity. Marion County salons, tattoo parlors can reopen by appointment only. Marion County gyms, fitness centers and pools can open with 50% capacity and no contact sports.

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