SALT LAKE CITY — Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City will once again close down car traffic for weekend afternoons and evenings this summer, allowing for restaurants, bars and shops to expand outdoor business.
Ryan Mack, the marketing director for the Salt Lake City Downtown Alliance, said this year's "Open Streets SLC" will begin May 27, which is the Thursday leading into Memorial Day weekend.
Every Thursday through Sunday afternoon and evening throughout the summer, barriers will be placed on Main Street from 400 South to South Temple. Mack said this will allow restaurants along the street to expand outdoor patio service areas for customers and give pedestrians more room to walk in the area.
There will be buskers and art performances from Exchange Place to City Creek Center, as well. Physical distancing, face coverings, frequent disinfecting and other safety guidelines will be required, especially inside restaurants and shops.
Salt Lake City first began the process of temporarily closing some streets to motor traffic in April 2020 as a way to provide pedestrians more space to walk while the state was still shut down as a result of COVID-19 protocols. More and more streets were opened up for walking and bike riding throughout 2020. The downtown portion of Main Street from 400 South to South Temple joined the list for a few weeks in September and October.
Although just a few weeks, the program had a positive impact on businesses last fall. After the first weekend concluded, Matt Crandall, who is in charge of food and beverage at White Horse Spirits and Kitchen along Main Street, told KSL TV that he believed the idea was already a success.
"It definitely helped increase our margins to go from losing money to making a little money," Crandall said, adding that he supported an extension of the program that fall.
If this year's Open Streets program succeeds, Mack said it's possible it could be brought back beyond 2021.
Contributing: Scott Bigger, KSL