The Streetery: Durham businesses set up tents, heaters as outdoor dining brings life back downtown
Posted October 16, 2020 6:49 p.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — The Downtown Durham Streetery has allowed many restaurants there to attract more customers on Friday and Saturday nights to eat outside.
Business owners said it has boosted morale, as well as the economy.
"The Friday and Saturday nights with the Streetery are starting to feel almost normal," said Elizabeth Turnbull, Co-Owner of Copa.
The Streetery has helped to heat up business just in time for the cool weather to arrive – but some business owners are concerned whether rainy days or the arrival of cold weather could bring morale back down again.
"I don’t think I have ever been more concerned about the weather in my entire life, Haha! We watch the weather every day," she said. "Percentage of rain, what is the low temperature? What is the high temperature? It all matters especially when half half or more of your business depends on outdoor dining.“
Directly across the street from Copa, Robert Montemayor, the GM at Luna, is setting up heaters that will help to keep his guests comfortable.
"We have a tent that we usually put out. We've got electric heaters. I've got a generator back there. We're trying to do all the things possible to keep people warm and cozy," said Montemayor.
Restaurant owners in Durham are constantly thinking up new ways to make business work.
“Durham is full of really creative minds. Our restaurants didn’t get the reputation they got by people who are comfortable being put in a little box," said Turnbull.
The Streetery has helped both Luna and Copa see increased business on Friday and Saturday nights – another example of the strong spirit of the people of Durham.
"Durham is still a small town. You've got to help each other out as much as possible, especially during these times," said Montemayor.
Turnbull reflected the sentiment, saying, "The whole team has to be strong if we’re going to keep a national reputation. So we know that. And we work together and support each other. It is a really beautiful thing we’ve seen."
The Downtown Durham Streetery is scheduled to go through December 19, allowing customers to shop, carry-out, dine-in or dine-out.