Outdoor dining expanded in Ashland with ‘Parking to Patio’ initiative

Local News

ASHLAND, Va. (WRIC) — The town of Ashland is embracing a different look thanks, in part, to their ‘Parking to Patio‘ initiative.

As some streets and parking areas downtown remain closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the initiative provides extra seating areas for restaurants and dine-in customers. By closing streets and changing pedestrian walkways from sidewalks to the street, more outdoor seating is sustained, which could mean a rise in business.

“Almost all together, businesses said ‘yeah we think this is a good idea,'” said Ashland Mayor Steve Trivett.

On Friday, May 15, ‘Parking to Patio’ was introduced to rave reviews.

“I think people are anxious to come back, just to get out of the house but also to support their businesses,” Mayor Trivett added.

Rusty Stone of Iron Horse restaurant told 8News he was able to double their amount of outdoor tables under the new policy.

“With the spacing that was going to be required, we may have gotten five tables out on our normal patio at best,” Stone said. “With the closing of the street, we were able to get up to 12 tables on Friday night.”

So could this become more common in Ashland, even after the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end? Mayor Trivett says that could be a possibility. Suzanne Wolstenholme of Homemade’s by Suzanne told 8News she hopes so.

“I’m hoping one day the street will be permanently closed,” Wolstenholme said, “so we can have a wonderful pedestrian area where people just could gather and go place to place on Railroad Avenue.”

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