The outdoor concept in the city of Canandaigua will be offered weekends from now until Oct. 3 — and possibly more, if weather holds up
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CANANDAIGUA — The outdoor dining concept that debuted over the weekend appears to have been popular and successful, according to Canandaigua City Manager John Goodwin.
And if you missed out on the inaugural weekend of The Central on Main, plenty more are on the way.
On Friday night, the parking lot between Simply Crépes restaurant and the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce was closed off to make way for dinner tables and diners. That was the kickoff of the outdoor dining concept new to the city, which will be offered for the next several weekends.
Simply Crépes co-owner Pierre Heroux estimated there were “easily” over 250 people who attended between Friday and Saturday nights — among them two couples from the Auburn area who had heard about this and decided to drive in and check it out — with Friday the opening night being the busier of the two.
“It went very well and I heard lots of positive comments from the people there,” Heroux said. “It felt like the restaurant community of Canandaigua came together and the people were excited about it.”
A formal debriefing on the event has not happened as of yet, but judging from social media and other accounts, a large number of diners took advantage of the new concept for the city, Goodwin said.
“Everything appeared to go off without a hitch,” Goodwin said. “I think people enjoyed it.”
The Central on Main is scheduled for 4 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, in the parking lot on South Main Street, until the weekend of Oct. 3.
Tables for outdoor dining seat about 100 socially distanced customers, with umbrellas and lighting.
Visitors find a table and order from any of the city’s establishments taking part in the concept for takeout or to have items delivered to tables. A beer and wine garden will allow visitors to order adult beverages from Simply Crépes, although a food item must also be ordered from the restaurant to meet New York regulations.
Customers told Heroux they felt safe with pandemic safeguards in place.
“It was good to hear,” Heroux said. “That’s exactly what we wanted to hear.”
Discussions on the outdoor concept began earlier in the spring and summer — at first, the thought was to try it on Phoenix Street — as a way to help restaurant owners recover from the past few months of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a way to help them get through the late fall and winter months, when outdoor dining is much less likely of an option.
Now, indoor capacity is limited to 50% of maximum occupancy — with a minimum of 6 feet of distancing — because of the pandemic.
That means many restaurants will revert to the takeout and/or curbside services they were forced into at the beginning of the pandemic in March.
But for now, it’s onward with this experiment, which Heroux said is something he believes can be improved upon. For instance, new tables and umbrellas may be added and with one weekend under their belts, restaurant owners now will be able to streamline the process.
“It was exciting,” Heroux said. “I think it’s only going to get busier.”