BURLINGTON, Vt. – On Saturday, several Burlington streets will close to vehicle traffic, allowing businesses to occupy the roadway and expand outdoor retail.
Sections of College Street, Bank Street, Center Street and South Champlain Street will be closed off to vehicles from noon to 8 pm.
It’s part of an Open Streets initiative that began in 2018, but the program has been modified to help small businesses and restaurants bounce back from months of closure while mitigating the spread of COVID-19. It will run every Saturday from noon to 8 pm until the end of August.
Businesses that will be expanding outdoor service on Saturday include Sweetwaters, The Archives, Patagonia, My Little Cupcake, El Cortijo, Ken’s Pizza and Pub, Captain Tom’s Tiki Bar, and The Farmhouse Tap and Grill.
For the businesses participating in this first Open Streets weekend, expectations are tempered, but nonetheless, there’s optimism that customer traffic can grow throughout the summer.
David Melincoff, owner of Sweetwaters, said he plans to add 15 to 20 tables outside on Saturday.
“I’m hoping that a bunch of people will come to downtown Burlington because all these restaurants and retail stores, they are struggling getting their place back open for business,” Melincoff said. “Every week, it’s definitely getting a little bit better and more people are feeling comfortable in coming downtown and shopping and eating.”
Around the corner from Sweetwaters, The Archives arcade bar has been open for several weeks, but only with a handful of tables.
“There are a lot of unknowns, but we’re hoping with the nice weather it’ll bring people out, kind of like on Church Street,” said Sean McKenzie, beverage director at The Archives. “I think a lot of it depends on participation, if there are only a handful it might not add a whole lot to business, but if it’s a lively business-oriented environment, I think it’ll draw people to College Street.”
Over the next few weekends, the closures on Bank Street and College Street are expected to expand. The city will also be inviting Pine Street businesses to use the roadway at future “Open Street” events.