BELOIT—East Grand Avenue businesses will spill out into the street for a unique downtown dining event that’s set to run through the summer and into the fall as restaurants look to make it through the COVID-19 disruption.

The Beloit City Council approved an ordinance on Monday that allows for a portion of East Grand Avenue to be closed to vehicle traffic so businesses can expand dining areas into the street in an event known as the East Grand Alfresco Experience.

Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther said the event could start as early as July 24 if all approvals are in place. Luther added that the event could expand to other portions of downtown. 

"This is the first time we have done something like this on Grand Avenue, so we will continue to review what is working and are open for suggestions," Luther said. "Outdoor dining is safer than inside dining when it comes from preventing the spread of COVID-19. We believe this will be a great way for residents to enjoy summer and fall in Beloit while still staying safe. We are excited to see how this develops over the next few week." 

Alcohol sales and consumption will be allowed from 4—10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The resolution requires physical distancing in bars, restaurants, and other retail establishments, in line with the city’s COVID-19 restrictions that were extended for a third time on Monday. Personal protective equipment will be required for those who cannot be physically distanced. 

The event is organized by Geronimo Hospitality Group with assistance from the Downtown Beloit Association. Representatives from both groups could not be reached for comment regarding the event as of press time.

Other Stateline Area municipalities have had success with similar events.

Over two weekends in June the City of Rockford closed the 200 to 500 blocks of East State Street that allowed 17 businesses both retail and restaurants to open in the streets.

“Our community was built on local individuals coming together to have the courage to build their own business. You look at our downtown today and where it’s come over so many years, the last 7 to 10 years, the downtown has really become the place where many local businesses are,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara told Rockford media outlets ahead of the event.