Outdoor dining a hit in downtown Aurora
Outdoor dining has become a hit in downtown Aurora. Since being allowed to open for outdoor dining on May 29, downtown restaurants and patrons alike are enjoying the option.
"Our sales have increased, and we're looking at ways to offer permanent outdoor dining," said Dan Emerson, owner of Gillerson's Grubbery at 33 W. New York St.
Gillerson's Grubbery and neighboring Endiro Coffee have benefited from the partial closure of adjacent Pinney Street. Both restaurants worked with the city and nonprofit group Aurora Downtown to expand their outdoor dining options.
Trevor Dick and Alex Minnella from the Mayor's Office of Economic Development came up with creative solutions while working hand in hand with Aurora Downtown's manager, Marissa Amoni.
"The city process was very seamless for the restaurants," Amoni said. "Flexibility in outdoor dining has allowed restaurants to stay in business while safely serving patrons who want to dine out," she added.
From parklets featuring round picnic tables with umbrellas to dining under a tent at Mora On The River along Water Street Mall, downtown now offers nearly two dozen outdoor dining areas.
Amoni said that parklets along Stolp Avenue used by Altiro Latin Fusion and Charlie's Creamery are well-utilized. Craft Urban set up a pop up serving BBQ for a few weeks in June as well.
"It's exciting to see downtown Aurora continuing to become more pedestrian friendly. A day of shopping or sightseeing can turn into an evening out, and it's all walkable," Amoni said.
Additional outdoor dining spots include patios at La Quinta de los Reyes, DeCari To Go, and McCarty Mills Taproom, decks at Tredwell Coffee and Ballydoyle, and sidewalk seating at Society 57 and Subway.
Water Street Mall is also lined with picnic tables to accommodate nearby restaurants as well as Aurora Farmers Market patrons and Food Truck Fridays held at lunchtime on Friday at Water Street Square across from City Hall.
Aurora Downtown's Streetscape committee recently approved $500 grants for a handful of downtown restaurants to help enhance outdoor dining. The funds are being used to purchase additional seating, shade coverings, lighting, and to hire outdoor musicians.
Amoni said that Aurora Downtown will keep working with the city and downtown restaurants to make some of the outdoor dining areas permanent.
"It's a great addition to downtown," she said.
For more information, and to find a map of downtown dining locations visit www.auroradowntown.org.
Aurora Downtown is a nonprofit group of business and property owners within Special Service Area (SSA) #One that is dedicated to making downtown Aurora a premier destination for arts, culture, entertainment, dining, living, and working.