Outdoor dining expands and so does farmers market

Paula Neuman

So far, three downtown Wyandotte bars have been granted city approval to temporarily expand their outdoor seating in an effort to make up for business lost due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Mayor Pro Tem Rob DeSana said Captain’s on Oak Street is allowed a food truck in the alley next to the bar on Sundays, the Dotte Pub on Oak has expanded its outdoor patio space to include parking spaces in front of the business and Whiskey’s on the Water on Biddle Avenue is using part of the parking lot behind the tavern for outdoor seating.

Other restaurants have requests in the works.

Sweet Arrangements on Biddle is asking for outdoor seating space on that street. Joe’s Hamburgers and the Silver Ballroom Pizzeria & Pinball Lounge, side by side on Biddle, are hoping to put seating in the parklet next to Joe’s. And Belicoso Cigar Bar, also on Biddle, is asking for outdoor seating space on First Street behind the establishment.

Other downtown businesses also want to expand their outdoor space with sidewalk tents and displays. 

The city is likely to approve the requests whenever it’s possible, DeSana said.

Wyandotte, along with many cities in the state and the nation, altered some of its rules last month to help businesses stay afloat this summer in the wake of the pandemic.

The state shut down bars, restaurants and other businesses in March to keep people from spreading the virus. On June 4, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer eased those restrictions to allow the places to reopen, but with 50 percent capacity and proper social distancing.

Wyandotte businesses seeking temporary outdoor expansions, including the use of sidewalks and parking spaces, have to submit plans with dimensions and traffic safety measures for approval by the city administrator, city attorney and police and fire chiefs.

DeSana and other officials said helping retain Wyandotte’s businesses is very important to them, and they’re doing what they can to help, including expanding outdoor operating hours for bars and restaurants for the summer. The risk of virus transmission is higher indoors than out, and many customers want to eat and drink outside

Pre-pandemic rules mandated that bars’ outdoor patios be vacated by midnight. That rule is changed temporarily to 2 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday and to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday.

DeSana noted that most city events that once helped the bars, restaurants and other businesses, including Third Fridays and the Wyandotte Street Art Fair, all have had to be cancelled because of Covid-19 precautions.

But a few city events — notably the Wyandotte Farmers Market & Artisan Fair and the new Beats on Biddle — are in the offing on Thursdays this summer and into the fall.

The farmers market, expanded from years past in partnership with the Vintage Market Home and Eastern Market’s Community Farm Stand Program, is open from 2 to 7 p.m. at Sycamore and Biddle, complete with musical entertainment. More outdoor music takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Clock Tower on Biddle and Maple, and from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Biddle Gallery Way next to Frank’s Restaurant & Pizzeria.

Also in the works is a downtown “social district” — a designated area where bars and restaurants can sell alcoholic beverages that may be consumed off the premises. In other words, a customer can buy a drink and walk around outside with it within the area.

A July 1 state law allows for the creation of social districts. 

Wyandotte’s Downtown Development Authority is proposing a social district that “would string together the licensed establishments into an interconnected and cohesive outdoor service area … for an attractive, festive downtown atmosphere,” according to the City Council’s July 20 agenda.

The designated area, details and times for a social district in Wyandotte are still under consideration, but may be determined soon, DeSana said.

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