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Lansing planning to bring outdoor social districts to the city

The city council approved outdoor social districts where people can eat food and drink alcohol in designated outdoor common areas.
Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 5:45 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The pandemic has been tough on so many businesses, even in Lansing. The city council wants to do its part to help them grow and increase customers. On Monday night, the council approved outdoor social districts where people can eat food and drink alcohol in designated outdoor common areas.

“Last year when the legislature passed the law that allowed social districts to be created by local governments, I took a look at it and said ‘this is something that I think we should bring to Lansing,’” Lansing City Council President Peter Spadafore said.

There are three proposed areas, REO Town, Old Town, and Downtown including Rotary Park and part of the River Trail, where these districts could open.

“We have 33 businesses that are eligible in these districts to participate in this, so that’s 33 places where residents and visitors can go to have a drink, have a meal, share time outdoors with family and friends,” Spadafore said.

Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale opened right before the pandemic. The opportunity to bring more foot traffic to their door is what they feel they need the most.

“It’s exciting for us because when we’re sort of trying to come out of COVID-19 and we’re looking for new ways to bring consumers down to our neck of the woods, or sort of back out of their homes,” President/Founder of Sleepwalker Jeremy Sprague said. “This is a very fresh approach.”

While this isn’t geared towards restaurants without liquor licenses like MEAT BBQ, they will still benefit from the increase in customers. MEAT BBQ hopes these districts can help smaller businesses who are struggling.

“This is one of the ways that people can find out about these little shops and I’m hoping this will help them,” MEAT BBQ Owner Sean Johnson said. “I’m sure it’ll help us, but I know for sure it should help them even more.”

Businesses and the council are hopeful this will be a huge economic benefit for the city.

“The social district will allow us to do more in the coming months and year or so to show people what we’re doing down here and showcase what we’re all about,” Sprague said.

The council says once its plan gets approval from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, it hopes to have the districts up and running as soon as possible.

The social districts would be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

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