NEWMAN - Dining in at your favorite restaurant is now out due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But a number of downtown Newman eateries and local vendors will be serving up their fare streetside Friday nights starting Aug. 14 in a “Main Street Eats” event.
The 1400 block of Main Street will be reserved for tables and chairs for four successive Friday evenings, allowing participating restaurants to offer outside dining to patrons looking to enjoy a meal out.
Restaurants have largely been limited to takeout and delivery since Governor Newsom imposed a second round of pandemic shutdowns in July due to the increasing spread of the coronavirus, but can serve in outdoor seating areas.
Providing the outside dining venue not only helps restaurants through challenging times but also provides an opportunity for people to enjoy a meal out, officials said.
“We will close off Main Street from Fresno to Merced, which is basically where our restaurants are, and allow them the opportunity to have tables outdoors so people could have an outdoor dining experience,” explained City Manager Michael Holland.
Alicia Mendoza, the city’s community liaison, said the promotion is a joint venture of the city and Newman Chamber of Commerce.
Health and safety guidelines such as social distancing will be adhered to, she emphasized.
“This is to support our local businesses, specifically our restaurants. We may have a small pop-up vendor here and there, but we are focusing on our downtown restaurants,” Mendoza explained. “The idea is to provide a place that is safe for them and safe for the community to come out and enjoy a family meal.”
Restaurant owners have been enthusiastic about the event, she added.
Restaurant owners who serve alcohol will be able to sell adult beverages for outdoor consumption, Holland said in response to a question from council member Casey Graham.
Graham also asked if the city could consider expanding the outdoor dining to Saturday evenings as well if the Main Street Eats event is well-received.
“If it is successful on Fridays and the response is good, give businesses the option,” Graham suggested. “If the majority say yes we offer it on Saturday. We need those businesses to stay in town and stay in business. I think this is a great avenue (to support local businesses).”
The Main Street Eats event is scheduled to run Fridays from Aug. 14 through Sept. 11. Outdoor dining hours are 6-9 p.m. each evening.
Holland suggested that the council review the program at its Aug. 25 meeting and determine at that time if expanding to additional nights is feasible.
Mendoza said the city and chamber are also making plans to offer a downtown farmers’ harvest market later in the fall.
Plans are for the market to run Fridays from Sept. 25 through Oct. 30.
The harvest market will feature fresh produce, crafts and food.
“Our community enjoyed it last year, and our vendors as well. We have a lot of the same vendors coming back,” Mendoza commented. “I am still looking for vendors. I have a good number, but I still want more. We are hoping to grow the market, little by little.”
Those interested in having a space at the harvest market may call Newman City Hall, 862-3725.