New Event Invites Residents to Safely Dine on Main Street This Summer
Photographer / Michael Durr
In late April, the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce polled their membership to gauge interest in a street dining opportunity. Seventy percent of the membership responded, “absolutely!”
They proposed offering “Night on the Bricks Al Fresco Evenings” in which each Thursday throughout June and July from 5–9 p.m. residents can order food and drinks from local restaurants, sit at a table on Main Street and relax with family and friends while safely socially distancing. They can also visit retailers lining the Brick Street.
“We had seen it done in Italy in their attempt to reopen restaurants,” says Allyson Gutwein, Zionsville Chamber Executive Director. She talked to Mayor Emily Styron. The Town of Zionsville was on board as everyone had the same goal in mind — to do something that benefited the restauranteurs and retailers given that everyone has been hit hard economically this year.
“The idea of this event is to provide a bright spot during a challenging time for local restaurants,” Mayor Styron says. “This is a chance for the community to come together socially, let our restaurants spill onto the Brick Street and support our local restaurants and retailers.”
Gutwein, who was in small business for a number of years, knows firsthand how tough it is. That is why this is not meant to be a block party where people bring their own coolers but rather a chance to socialize while patronizing local businesses.
“We want people to get outside and shop and dine so we get as much influx of financing into our businesses as possible to keep them strong and solid,” Gutwein says.
Night on the Bricks, which is sponsored by CENTURY 21 Scheetz – Laura Heigl, runs through July 30, with a chance it could be extended if the budget allows.
“We would have to figure out how to get it done,” Gutwein says. “But if we can figure out how to put this event together in two-weeks’ time, I’m sure we can find a way to extend it. People have already asked us about next year.”
The Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Zionsville is also doing all they can to host to other events in August — the Brick Street Market and the Street Dance.
“We’ll see how this goes first, but believe me, we have our heads full of ideas,” Gutwein says. “Now we just have to be able to execute in the year of COVID-19.”
She notes that every time things get changed, they change with them, and that’s okay.
“Things may look a little different than what we are used to, like only being able to have ‘x’ number of people at these events, then enlarging it as time goes on, but if that’s what we do to pull something off, we do it,” Gutwein adds. “At the end of the day, people have to know that this is ultimately what we are doing to keep our restaurants and retail establishments alive and if this is what we can do and this is all we can do, then we are going to do all we can to the best of our ability until we can do more.”
Angie McCloskey, Co-Owner of Zionsville Olive Oil Gallery, maintains that 80% of their customers live within the community.
“We couldn’t survive without their support,” she says. “The shops and restaurants are the heartbeat to our community, and the community is the fuel that keeps us going.”
In the spring during the time they were closed, loyal customers continued to order their products, which were delivered free — a service they plan to continue.
“Currently, we all use the slogan, ‘We’re all in this together,’” McCloskey says. “Now [with Night on the Bricks], we get an opportunity to show it in a fun way.”
Kent and Liz Esra, owners of Cobblestone, are grateful to the town and the chamber, not only for creating the Night on the Bricks event but also for the outstanding job they’ve done banding together during the pandemic to help businesses.
“We support anything we can do to get people back feeling good about coming out,” Kent says. “We absolutely have to get our economy going again so people can make some money.”
They enjoy seeing familiar faces they hadn’t seen in several months because they truly do love their customers. During the coronavirus crisis, they had people who didn’t feel comfortable shopping at grocery stores so Cobblestone sold groceries and filled orders for them curbside.
“People would spend $100 a week and tip another $100 for the staff,” Kent says. “Zionsville has always supported local, and the people have been great to me and Liz for 20 years. We absolutely love Zionsville.”
“It’s this community of neighbors helping neighbors that makes Zionsville so fantastic,” she says.
Things to Know About Night on the Bricks
- Tables are first-come, first-serve.
- Bring your own hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes.
- Use the public restrooms and handwashing stations instead of those inside the restaurants.
- Order carryout from restaurants in advance.
- When possible, walk or bike to Main Street as parking will be limited.