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Pop-up dining area coming to Weisiger Park tonight, Tuesday

A new dining experience will be at Weisiger Park Friday and Tuesday evenings as a way to expand local restaurants’ indoor limited seating constraints due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Heart of Danville, Boyle County Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Economic Development Partnership have collaborated to offer a pop-up community dining area at the park, adjacent to the Boyle County Courthouse for tonight and Tuesday evening.

“This project has really developed to help kickstart the local independent restaurants that have been so strongly affected by COVID-19 restrictions,” said Chamber Executive Director Jeff Jewel.

The dining area will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Tables and chairs will be scattered throughout the park where families and friends can bring take-out meals from their favorite restaurants and enjoy eating outdoors together, at a safe distance.

“Right now we are keeping it very simple,” Jewel said. “Pickup food from a nearby restaurant and bring it over to your socially distanced table at Weisiger Park. We will keep things clean and be there to greet you.”

Maximum capacity is about 75, Jewel said, and seating is on a first come first service basis. “It will be just like eating at a sidewalk café. We imagine some people will enjoy lingering unless others are waiting for a spot.”

Diners will not be able to bring their own chairs or portable tables due to proper social distancing, and alcohol isn’t allowed, at this time. However, that may change in the future, Jewel said.

Tonight (Friday) Travis Kern will provide music for the pop-up cafe, Jewel said.

HOD’s Economic Vitality Committee “has championed this effort,” said CVB Executive Director Jennifer Kirchner. It’s an effort to help local restaurants that are just now opening up with limited seating after being restricted to curbside pickups and deliveries to sustain their businesses during the height of the pandemic.

“We are looking for ways to encourage people to feel safe and welcome again,” Kirchner said. “This is an easy and inexpensive way to get people out and about to see each other and enjoy our beautiful downtown.”

A cleaning protocol is in place for volunteers to follow throughout the evening as diners leave. For the first pop-up dining event, volunteers from the HOD, Chamber and CVB, including HOD Executive Director Dustin Duvall, will be on hand to clean and help make the event run smoothly and safely, Jewel said.

The collaborative group staging the pop-up dining event is also considering making it a weekly event, if the first two nights are successful, at least until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

“We are very excited to offer this fun dining option and hope it takes off,” Jewel said.

Kirchner added that they are also looking into the possibility of adding food trucks at a later community pop-up event.

Duvall said, “We are excited about the collaboration between HOD, Chamber, CVB, EDP, and the City of Danville during these trying times and appreciate all the effort to help our local businesses. We hope this event will encourage those individuals or families who want to come downtown to eat and support and shop but not sure if they feel comfortable with being inside our buildings, or not sure if there will be enough room with the 33% capacity that restaurants have to do per governor orders. This is another avenue for people to support local and enjoy our beautiful historic downtown community.”

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