A game changer.
That’s how Tin 202 owner Chris Evans described an initiative that will allow High Street restaurants to use on-street parking spaces as expanded outdoor dining areas.
His restaurant, located at the corner of High and Pleasant, will receive the first “parklet,” an idea spearheaded by WV Living magazine Publisher and Editor Nikki Bowman Mills and Michael Mills, of Mills Group, as a way to help the businesses cope with the 50% occupancy restriction in place due to COVID-19.
For Tin 202, the restriction meant going from 51 diners to 25. Evans said the outdoor seating will allow for as many as 20 additional seats while still adhering to social distancing guidelines.
“It’s going to allow us to get closer to normal and feel like, ok, we’re coming out of the woods here. It’s a sad time for restaurants.
They’ve been hit harder than a lot of industries, understandably,” Evans said. “Selfishly, we’re excited for us, but we want to see this up and down High Street and on main streets across West Virginia.”
As for High Street, that’s the plan.
The expansion effort kicks off with a fundraiser Friday and Saturday at the pilot location.
Diners can reserve a two-hour spot for $50 and receive a commemorative menu featuring a painting of the Brock, Reed & Wade Building on High Street by artist Micheal Doig commissioned by Mills Group. All proceeds will help fund the next High Street dining parklet project.
Nikki Bowman Mills said the Tin 202 parklet was designed by Mills Group and will be separated from traffic with concrete walls donated by Central Supply Company. That portion of High Street will be reduced to one lane.
She credited city officials and the West Virginia Division of Highways for being so receptive to the idea.
“When we first went out on social media about this idea … many people said, ‘You’ll never get this done. DOH will never support it. The city will never help.’ We did not find any of that to be true,” she said, noting there were also hundreds of messages of support.
“Many of our downtown restaurants are small spaces and they’ve been cut to 50% occupancy, so that doesn’t leave them much room. In this situation, they’re really struggling, but the community wants to support them. This is a way.”
Earlier this month, the city of Morgantown expanded its outdoor dining program to include eateries city-wide. It has also temporarily suspended enforcement of minimum parking requirements, enabling businesses to utilize private parking areas.
The expanded outdoor dining on High Street will be in place until students return in the fall.
Evans said he’s hopeful this is the beginning of a permanent program.
“We’re implementing this due to desperate times, but I hope we sustain it because it’s just a good idea. You see markets doing this across the country,” he said. “So it’s going to be here this summer, but let’s not pull the plug next summer.”
To make reservations for next weekend’s kickoff fundraiser, contact Tin 202 at 304-212-5863.
Tin 202 will receive first ‘parklet’ dining area on High Street
A game changer.