Marion County restaurants remain hopeful ahead of fewer restrictions starting after Labor Day

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INDIANAPOLIS – Business owners in Marion Country are trying to remain hopeful before some restrictions for restaurants and bars are lifted after Labor Day.

Starting Tuesday, restaurants can open at 75 percent outdoor dining and bars can re-open at limited capacity.

Crews will also be removing roadblocks after Labor Day for portions of Mass Ave and Broad Ripple Avenue to allow vehicle traffic to pass through and park. The roads were closed for the “Dine Out” program in Indianapolis.

Hogsett said there is no way to feasibly close streets permanently given its contract on parking meters with Park Indy. It would cost tens of millions of dollars before the city even enters the design phase, he said.

Mayor Hogsett said he is hoping to announce a more permanent solution for expanded outdoor dining and is working with several agencies to do so.

“I am excited for the bars that are able to open,” said Staci Menzi, co-owner of World of Beer on Mass Ave.

Menzi had mixed reactions even after the county announced it’s easing restrictions for bars and restaurants.

“With the street reopening to vehicle traffic and that opening up sidewalks for pedestrians, it makes me nervous with the mask wearing and social distancing,” she said.

She is worried because she already has her plate full with enforcing social distancing at her business. Crews will begin removing barriers at Broad Ripple Avenue on Tuesday, September 8. Barriers will be removed from Mass Ave. later in the week as crew schedules allow.

“That is one of my biggest concerns. Where are people going to wait once all of the restaurants on the street are at capacity?” Menzi said.

Businesses and restaurants that have temporarily expanded their outdoor seating/dining on private property will be allowed to keep this space through November 30. 

During these challenging times, restaurants in Marion County need the support of customers to stay open. Patrick Tamm, the president of the Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association, said Marion County is lagging behind the rest of the state significantly.

He explained the Mile Square area is struggling more than other parts of downtown since about half of their revenue each year comes from convention goers.

“50 percent of your business is not present. We would have just been coming off Gen Con and some other great connections,” Tamm said.

He said the Mass Ave area is seeing better results than Mile Square but it is still worse than surrounding counties. Tamm is thankful opportunities for businesses are improving though and it is not going unnoticed by World of Beer either.

“The city has been great at getting the street shut down and getting our businesses back open,” Menzi said.

Table service at restaurants in Marion County will also be allowed in bar areas. On Tuesday bars and nightclubs will be able to reopen at 25 percent indoors with up to 50 percent capacity utilizing outdoor seating.

Hogsett said the bars and nightclubs can only offer table seating. Customers must be seated at tables capable of supporting no more than six people. Bar seating will remain closed.

Those businesses must close at 12 a.m. Three violations will lead to a closure for a minimum of 30 days, according to Dr. Virginia Caine with the Marion County Public Health Department.

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