CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Local businesses and restaurants in the downtown Charleston area are getting the weekend to spread out and attract customers differently.
The City of Charleston closed Capitol and Hale streets beginning Friday afternoon and will remain that way until Sunday evening to allow for outdoor dining and shopping in some spots.
Kim Rossi, the owner of Stella’s Gelato/Specialty Market on Hale Street told 580-WCHS on Friday that the idea of closing down streets came long before the pandemic and she is excited about the opportunity.
“All the local businesses surrounding me, including Hale House, we have been talking about this for Hale for almost a year,” she said.
Rossi said she heard from the city that it may last longer than just this weekend and could be for future weekends to come if patrons cooperate.
“We need everybody to cooperate and still maintain a social distance, to wear masks when entering the storefront and I think everything is going to go smoothly,” she said.
Rossi admitted the pandemic has been tough on her business, which opened in the late summer of 2019. Stella’s did not qualify for a PPP loan but did receive another small business loan, according to her.
The business has also changed its business model and turned into more of a specialty good stores and done more curbside orders.
“Instead of having special events and music nights indoors, we are doing more specialty retail to survive,” Rossi said.
The streets will be closed from Kanawha Boulevard to Lee Street, although a lane on Hale Street from Kanawha Boulevard to Virginia Street will remain open to allow access to the South Side Bridge.
“The City is committed to helping our small businesses. We have been working with restaurants for months to create an outdoor dining plan that is safe and gives our small businesses additional seating capacity,” Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin said in a release.
“We are using Capitol Street and Hale Street as a pilot program and plan to expand this effort to include additional restaurants in other parts of the City.”
Restaurants will be responsible for providing tables, chairs and tents.
The streets will be closed from Friday at 3 p.m. to Sunday at 9 p.m.
Story by Jake Flatley