Open-air dining comes to East Lansing's downtown

 Downtown East Lansing's new open-air dining setup.
Downtown East Lansing's new open-air dining setup. (WILX)
Published: Jun. 12, 2020 at 7:20 AM EDT
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The East Lansing City Council has started a new pilot program with open-air dining areas in the city's downtown area.

The city has authorized three areas in downtown East Lansing for potential open-air dining.

This means take-out food and packaged alcohol purchased from downtown restaurants can be consumed in a socially distanced outdoor setting.

Three areas designated for conversion include:

* Albert Avenue, from east of the Albert Avenue Garage entrance at 188 Albert Avenue to M.A.C. Avenue

* The Bailey Street Parking Lot at 139 Bailey St.

* The parking area along the north side of Valley Court

The Albert Avenue location opened for the first time Thursday night.

“This is a new endeavor that we are trying out to support our downtown

restaurants and we appreciate the community’s patience as we move through our opening phases,' said East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas.

"We also encourage community members to maintain social distancing and enjoy these areas in a responsible manner so that we are able to keep them open in support of our downtown businesses,” added Lahanas.

Based on the success of this pilot location and the needs of downtown

businesses, the program may be expanded to the other two locations.

Any area in use will be open to the public from 11 a.m. -10 p.m. through no later than Aug. 15.

Patrons will be expected to purchase food and uncapped alcohol from restaurants that are licensed to sell beer and wine for off-premises consumption within three blocks of the open-air dining areas.

Also, alcohol must be in original packaging and may only be un-capped and consumed within the designated areas.

There will be a two-hour time limit for patrons to finish their meals while seated in these areas.

While seated, smoking and the use of amplified sound will not be permitted.

A special sanitation team will be on-site to keep the area clean during the hours of operation.

The clean-up teams are thanks in part to a $20,000 donation of financial support from the East Lansing Downtown Development Authority.

Lahanas says, “Our hope is that this provides an incentive for community members to come downtown this summer and support our local restaurants.”

The city wants to remind all downtown visitors that free, two-hour parking is being offered in all gated facilities in downtown East Lansing through the end of June.

Parking fees will automatically be reduced by two hours when tickets are inserted at the exits of the facilities.

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