BARBERTON, Ohio (WOIO) - The city of Barberton has come up with a creative way to help its local businesses. The city will temporarily be shutting down a section of downtown streets to create more space for customers.
Most downtown restaurants have no outdoor seating, so this will allow them to add tables on the sidewalk and in the street.
City leaders also believe this will make it safer for customers because there will be more room to practice social distancing.
On May 21 most restaurants in downtown Barberton will open their doors for the first time since the pandemic started.
“Oh we have been hurting, but we are super excited to be opening our doors to our customers this weekend,” said Michelle Seladoki, owner of M&M’s Tap House.
Starting Thursday, the city of Barberton will shut down West Tuscarawas Avenue between 3rd and 6th streets, and West Park Avenue from 2nd Street to the alley.
This will allow businesses to expand seating to the sidewalk and street. Seladoki is grateful for the outdoor seating and is crossing her fingers that it will continue.
“I think having the outdoor dining is going to really bring more people out because a lot of people are still afraid and hesitant to come out and knowing that they can sit outdoors comfortable and the weather is supposed to be beautiful,” Seladoki said.
“It’s good for everybody in Barberton, all the community, people downtown and I think it’ll be a good thing for the city,” said Mark Sanchez, owner of Casa del Ranchero.
City Councilman Shaun Rocky Jaber came up with the idea.
“This way you can spread out the tables and have 6 to 7 people, whatever the state regulates and the governor, and having the street closed people eat their dinners and walk around and they’ll be more distancing than sitting in a small capacity inside the restaurant,” explained Jaber.
He also thinks it will help restaurants bounce back while still keeping the community safe.
“Example if a restaurant inside has 10, 12 tables, they can only have 6 of the full,” said Jaber. “This way they can bring the other 6 outside.”
The streets will be closed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. As of now people won’t be able to drink alcohol at these outdoor tables, but the city is looking into rezoning the area so that could be allowed in the future.
It is not just restaurants who will benefit from this; it is going to help out Ken’s Barbershop too. He’s going to have chairs outside his shop where people can get their haircut, city leaders are hoping they’ll be able to continue this every weekend for the rest of the summer.