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Speedway among communities helping restaurants with outside seating amid pandemic

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — The town of Speedway is allowing restaurants to spread back out on the streets and sidewalks as the weather warms up during the coronavirus pandemic.

The extra tables can double capacity for some restaurants and double their revenue, too.

While a passing thunderstorm cleared out the outside diners Wednesday afternoon at Barbecue and Bourbon on Main, clear skies seem to be ahead. “We made it through winter. Everybody’s been counting on this time of year and opening back up,” said owner Marcia Huff.

Huff said the outdoor seating doubles both her occupancy and revenue. “For sure.”

This year, for the first time, Speedway is allowing her to put five tables in an adjoining parking lot owned by the town. “We really appreciate the fact that they do that,” Huff said. “They bent over backward to make sure everything is OK for us.”

Down the street at Dawson’s on Main, the tables are back out on the sidewalk, too. “I think the town of Speedway is a great town to work in,” said server Kiely Donis.

There are fewer tables this year compared to last summer, but Donis said it’s a different situation with greater occupancy allowed and other improved metrics. “It seems like a lot more people are feeling more comfortable now that people are getting vaccinated,” Donis said. “I’m really excited. I think it’s going to be a busy summer. We’re ready for it.”

Both Bloomington and Lafayette are allowing what are called parklets, allowing seating in parking spaces.

Indianapolis continues to have a relaxed permitting process outdoor seating on private property whether that’s a grassy lot or a parking space. City officials said they have not decided if they will be closing down any streets for outdoor dining, which ended Nov. 30.