Bloomington closes streets, adds 7 ‘parklets’ for outdoor dining during pandemic

An undated view of a parklet -- parking spaces converted into outdoor dining areas during the coronavirus pandemic -- on College Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo Provided/City of Bloomington)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Downtown Bloomington diners on Wednesday will see an jump in the number of dining “parklets,” parking spaces converted into physically distanced seating for adjacent restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.

Parklets are outside these restaurants: Social Cantina and SmokeWorks; Inkwell and Orbit Room; The Tap; Cup & Kettle/Village Pub; Malibu Grill; BuffaLouie’s; Crazy Horse; Cafe Bali: Butch’s; Grazie; and The Owlery.

Yaël Ksander, communications director for the Bloomington Office of the Mayor, said in an email to News 8, “The parklets program started in August 2020 as a way of supporting downtown restaurants in the COVID crisis. There were four last year, and seven are being added tomorrow. This is still technically a ‘pilot’ program.”

A news release issued Tuesday from the city government said additional parklets may be created as downtown restaurants apply for them online. The free parklets are created on a case-by-case basis.

The expansion to 11 parklets comes days after Bloomington limited three sections of Kirkwood Avenue in its central business district to pedestrians only, eliminating motorized traffic. The closed areas are: Indiana Avenue to Dunn Street; Dunn Street to Grant Street; and the west half of the block between Walnut Street and Washington Street. 

“The decision to renew the conversion of these Kirkwood blocks this season was made in collaboration with Downtown Bloomington, Inc. and the Kirkwood Community Association, and with input from affected downtown businesses,” the release said.