Park City dining decks return, providing Main Street boost amid economic turmoil
Alyssa Marsh on Thursday morning was outside 501 On Main, the Main Street restaurant that her family owns, readying for another important day as Park City restaurants and Main Street itself attempt to emerge from the novel coronavirus-caused downturn.
Marsh was finishing setting up the 501 On Main dining deck on Main Street just outside the restaurant as she prepared to open the deck later that day. The dining deck and others like it along Main Street are allowed as part of a City Hall program that dates to the period when Park City was moving out of the recession caused by the financial crisis a decade ago.
This year, with Park City again amid economic turmoil, the dining-deck program is seen as something that could provide a lift to Main Street as well as provide a visual image showing the shopping, dining and entertainment strip is open.
Marsh said the outside seating will be “critical” this year. The dining deck increases the seating available and will assuage diners who might be worried about inside seating, she said.
“Ours is always busy. We have up to a two-hour wait,” she said about the dining deck.
Several of the decks appeared in recent days and others are expected to be built shortly. The list of approved decks, according to City Hall:
• 501 On Main
• Crystal Park Cantina
• The Eating Establishment
• Flanagan’s on Main
• Main Street Pizza & Noodle
• Fletcher’s, where the dining deck will be on the Swede Alley side of the building
• Bangkok Thai on Main
The decks are allowed to remain until Oct. 30. The Park City Council in approving the program for 2020 removed a requirement that the restaurants serve lunch and dinner. The elected officials also removed the charge for restaurants to operate a deck.
The dining decks a decade ago were intended to enliven Main Street as the financial crisis hurt business and outlying commercial districts were carving into sales on the street. The decks have proven popular over the years, and they are filled at many points in the summer and early fall.
The program this year will serve a crucial role amid the continued economic impacts of the spread of the coronavirus. Main Street hopes the decks highlight the return of business after an awful spring when many stores were closed and some restaurants only offered curbside pickup.
The Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents the interests of businesses on or just off Main Street, addressed the dining decks in the organization’s blueprint for recovery, saying the decks will signify movement toward the reopening.
“The placement of dining decks will show a start to return to business even if the decks are not used for some time,” the economic recovery plan drafted by the Historic Park City Alliance says.
Alison Kuhlow, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, in an interview described the dining decks as providing additional square footage for tables in a year when there are limits based on health concerns. The decks will provide some diners with a “greater level of comfort” since they are outside, she predicted.
“Absolutely, they’re going to add atmosphere,” she said. “It’s that visual, to see activity is happening.”
At 501 On Main, the dining deck will increase the number of people the restaurant can serve at any one time. County Courthouse health restrictions remain in place that reduce the diner numbers inside. Marsh said 501 On Main has 100 seats inside, but the health restrictions limit the number of diners to 62 inside. The dining deck will add 16 seats, making up for some of the lost seating inside.
“People are going to be more comfortable going to restaurants if they’re outside,” Marsh said.
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Park City within weeks intends to file an application involving the development of an arts and culture district along Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard.