Helping restaurants: Sarasota closes two downtown streets for outdoor seating

Sarasota County

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – To help restaurants recover from the current economic crisis, the City of Sarasota will temporarily close their downtown streets to give them more space to safely serve their customers.

The city will close streets in two areas this weekend to allow for expanded outdoor seating.

The closures will begin at 4 p.m. Friday and on 4 p.m. Saturday, and all day Sunday and Monday in the 1300 block of Main Street (Palm Avenue to Miramar Court) and on State Street from the State Street Garage to Lemon Avenue.

Brick’s Smoked Meats on State Street brought in extra furniture and patio seating ahead of the holiday weekend. General Manager Nino Wardrip tells 8 On Your Side the restaurant will have sanitizing stations out on the street and social distancing will remain a top priority.

“Definitely having more seating outside will help out all the businesses down here and bring more people in for foot traffic for even some of the retail merchants here as well,” said Wardrip.

City Manager Tom Barwin tells 8 On Your Side if all goes well this weekend, the street closures could expand to other parts of the city.

“We are trying to create some win-win scenario’s with our business community, the public in general and our commerce. Getting people back out and being comfortable doing so and safe, that is the big thing,” said Barwin.

The city is encouraging all residents to wear protective masks in public, and said signage will be placed in both areas to remind patrons of safe social distancing practices. Extra officers will be out patrolling throughout the city and reminding people to keep a safe social distance.

“We’re doing everything we can to help our local business community quickly get back on its feet and adapt to these unprecedented challenges,” said Barwin. “We’re taking the opportunity to experiment with street closures, and we encourage the public to shop and dine locally and enjoy our beautiful downtown in a safe and responsible way this holiday weekend.”

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