FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The city of Fort Wayne is working with the Downtown Improvement District (DID) to help local restaurants and businesses with the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Tom Henry says the city is investing in DID programming that offers free meal delivery from participating restaurants, helps downtown restaurants expand and extends the Clean & Green program into several urban corridors, among others.
The city says the program will work with downtown business Waiter on the Way to provide free meal delivery to Fort Wayne residents beginning Thursday. The free delivery will be available until the end of the year.
“Our local restaurants contribute significantly to our community’s quality of life by offering unique experiences for both residents and visitors,” said Henry. “Because the pandemic is disproportionately affecting our local restaurants and shops, we need to find creative ways to help them and their employees through this challenging time.”
Expanding the program to the entire city is also expected to create additional jobs. The city says Waiter on the Way will hire up to 35 more drivers and up to seven office staff to support the expansion.
“As we move into the fall and winter months, helping our local restaurants make it through the Covid-19 crisis is crucial,” said Michael Galbraith, president of the Downtown Improvement District. “Increasing the length of time that their outdoor dining areas are open and helping them serve our community with free delivery is the most effective way that we can directly help our friends and neighbors who are employed by restaurants.”
Fort Wayne’s Clean & Green Program, which provides sanitation work in the downtown area, will expand to Broadway, Wells Street, South Calhoun Street, West Main Street and Fairfield Avenue. The city says the expansion will allow the DID to add jobs for new Clean & Green staff.
The city and the DID say they will invest in heaters and outdoor seating for 14 downtown restaurants to expand and enhance their outdoor seating. The restaurants include: Big Apple Pizza, Bistro Nota, Burger Bar Fort Wayne, Club Soda, Coney Island, Dash-In, Henry’s Restaurant, JK O’Donnell’s, Kanela, Lewis Street Grill, Próximo, The Hoppy Gnome, Landing Beer Company and Tolon.
The Meal Service Delivery program and the Clean & Green expansion are funded from the city’s allocation of CARES Act funding, of which up to $500,000 can be spent on the programs.
The Community Development Division is also investing more than $37,000 of façade grant funding in the outdoor dining expansion program. The city says the investment is being matched with a grant from the Knight Foundation and Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne.