Cary trustees planning to bring back outdoor dining this summer

  • Cary plans to repeat last summer's experiment with outdoor dining.

    Cary plans to repeat last summer's experiment with outdoor dining. Courtesy village of Cary

By Cassie Buchman
Shaw Media
Updated 2/20/2021 5:04 PM

After getting overwhelmingly positive feedback from residents about outdoor dining on Spring Street last year, Cary village trustees and staff are looking to bring it back for 2021.

Cary provided picnic tables in several locations in the village, and Spring Street was closed to traffic south of West Main Street to allow a larger outdoor dining area on the road to be shared by all downtown businesses, village staff said.


The village called it "Alfresco Alley on Spring Street." Decorated with picnic tables, string lights and planters, and even featuring live music at times, the gathering space was welcomed by residents, according to village documents.

With this in mind, Cary now is exploring the possibility of reinstating "Alfresco Alley on Spring Street" later this year, a move village trustees expressed enthusiasm for during a Committee of the Whole meeting last week.

"This is a trend that is extremely popular throughout all the suburbs," Trustee Ellen McAlpine said. "People love to get off the train or walk downtown. People are really enjoying that type of foot traffic. And I think we can improve upon it. ... The more people we have downtown, the better it is for everybody."

At Tuesday's meeting, three options for outdoor dining were laid out for trustees.

Option one would keep "Alfresco Alley on Spring Street" the same as the 2020 pilot configuration. Roads would be closed to traffic for seven days a week from April through October. With this option, 11 parking spaces would be unavailable.

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The second option was to close Spring Street only on the weekends from April to October. Village staff members said it would be challenging to move tables weekly.

Option three would create parking stalls on the east side of Spring Street just south of West Main Street, with "parklets," or public seating structures, being potentially sponsored by adjacent businesses or community groups.

An official vote was not taken, but the consensus was to choose the first option.

Another idea the village is considering, Mayor Mark Kownick said, is a pop-up venue for some of the other restaurants in town on weekends.

"Just to say this is for the whole community," Kownick said. "That's something we should consider to give opportunities for people."

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