Businesses on Walkable Main report a successful first weekend
BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge’s Walkable Main, a pedestrian-only Main Street concept, opened for business on Friday. The street closed down at 6 a.m. on Thursday and by Friday restaurants were seating customers at outdoor tables in their designated 10-by-34-foot sections of the street. Retail businesses were able to place their merchandise outside on a table, shelving or a rack and could accompany their setups with a mannequin and a sandwich board sign.
Walking around Main Street Saturday afternoon, there were people out and about, but aside from the live music performances that were going on at the Riverwalk Center, the street was still fairly quiet as the day wound down. People spaced out across the lawn and on the riverbank watched and listened to performances, which will continue to take place Wednesdays through Sundays and will be put on by local musicians, storytellers and performance artists as well as National Repertory Orchestra quartets.
Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula, who owns the restaurant Downstairs at Erics, said he had been busy all day on Saturday until it rained later at night and that people were enjoying the setup. While people were concerned about rain early on in the planning process of Walkable Main, Mamula said things ran pretty smoothly at his restaurant when rain hit, as everything was just quickly brought inside.
“There’s definitely some tweaks to do and I’ll be talking to the council this week about just some of my observations, some things I think we can do to liven it up a little bit but all in all, I’m pretty happy,” Mamula said.
He suggested adding some more “animation” in the street, such as chalk art. Overall, Mamula said on Sunday that he feels it has been a fairly successful first few days since the opening of Walkable Main. Talking with a few restaurants and retailers within the closure, he said the general sentiment has been that people have been happy with how the first weekend of Walkable Main has unfolded. He said he has seen a lot of visitors participating, including those visiting from out of state, but has seen locals walking around as well.
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“So far, it seems like we may be on the right track,” Mamula said.
As for the town’s mask ordinance, which requires facial coverings to be worn when physical distancing cannot be maintained, Mamula said it feels like an “uphill battle.” He said there were a fair amount of people on the town’s narrow sidewalks with no mask evident.
Teryn Guadagnoli, owner of Modis restaurant, also said she’s seeing people enjoy Walkable Main. She said that a few of the shop owners who were hesitant about the idea seemed okay with it now that Walkable Main is up and running.
“I think we did a pretty good job of not making it look tacky and I think over the next week or so we’ll see people’s patios evolve more to the personality of the restaurant,” Guadagnoli said.
To decorate her patio, Guadagnoli said she covered the outdoor tables in wallpaper and may put flowers on the tables. She said the concept of Walkable Main definitely brings people in to her restaurant to ask questions. Guadagnoli added that there has already been more than one instance where the restaurant had to use a waitlist for outdoor seating.
Guadagnoli was however concerned that people have been bringing outside alcohol to restaurants’ outdoor seating, which is in violation of open container laws.
The town only extended individual restaurant’s liquor licenses to their specific patio area, meaning alcoholic beverages can only be drunk on patios that have been bought from the restaurant operating that patio. She also noted that trying to navigate people bringing dogs and wanting to sit with them on the patio has been an issue. Guadagnoli said that the restaurant has had to remind people to wear their facial coverings and explain to people why this is a rule.
Business-wise, Guadagnoli said Modis is operating around at normal for this time of year. When talking with other restaurants, Guadagnoli reported that no one she has spoken with has specifically said that their business is “really, really hurting” right now.
“I really appreciate the locals and the retail and the restaurant community and especially the town working so hard to make this happen and make it such a wonderful experience for everybody so far,” Guadagnoli said.
On the retail side, Lori Warrick, assistant manager of Valleygirl Boutique, said that the clothing store had been very busy for the whole weekend and noted that all of June has been a good month for the store. The boutique has a rack of sales items placed outside and Warrick said she feels the boutique is back to normal for typical customers and sales.
Warrick said customers have been respectful of face mask and physical distancing requirements. She said a lot of visitors from out of town and out of state have come into the store and that customers from states such as Florida and Texas have been very appreciative of shopping with restrictions as they feel more comfortable than they may be in their home states where restrictions are more relaxed. Warrick said that she was on-board with Walkable Main from the start.
“I was very excited, I’ve always thought that it would be good for business in Breckenridge and people have been taking advantage of it and gathering on the street at the various restaurants and coffee shops and I think it will be a huge draw over the summer,” Warrick said.
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