INDIANAPOLIS — It's a big day for many restaurants in Indianapolis as Friday marked the first time they're allowed to offer in-person dining since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
All seating must be outdoors and follow certain guidelines.
Mass Ave. is one of several corridors the city closed to allow restaurants more space for seating.
One by one the tables are filling up. Placed six feet apart and only in outdoor areas it's a unique but welcome sight for many restaurant owners and managers.
"In this business no matter what it is we always have to adapt, we always have to improvise and it's kind of cool," Jake Johnson, bar manager at Garden Table, said.
The Garden Table on Mass Ave. was one of the first to see customers today as small groups gathered there for brunch. Restaurants are only allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. They can only seat groups of six people or fewer and they're taking extra steps to keep everything sanitized.
Employees are wearing gloves and masks. They're asking customers to do the same when possible. It's a lot of work but work the owner of Nine Irish Brothers said is worth it.
"With the past few months being closed everyone is playing catch up trying to figure out what to do and all the stuff so it is going to be tough but we are excited about it," Jason Mugg, owner of Nine Irish Brothers, said. "And I think a lot of people are excited to just start getting out and getting back to a normal pace."
There was a group of several business and restaurant owners on Mass Ave. who opposed the street closure saying they lose parking spaces for carryout orders. They're also worried about large groups gathering. While some agree, others say this is a unique way to adapt and get back to work.
"It's kind of cool that we can pull together and do something like this to make sure that our community is going to thrive even in the weirdest of times so I'm excited," Johnson said.
The outdoor dining permits and street closures are expected to go through the Fourth of July weekend.