KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The 10th annual Restaurant Week begins Friday September 11. Patrons can visit dozens of restaurants and bars and taste a variety of expensive meals at fixed low prices.
And, if they have time before dining, then can order an alcoholic beverage and leave the restaurant.
“Actually a customer can walk about, go for a stroll if they’re waiting for a table,” said Andrew Haan, president of the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership. “They can get a cocktail and go do a little shopping in the interim.”
It’s a new initiative that KDP, a private nonprofit dedicated to economically enhancing the downtown area, launched last week during Labor Day weekend. Haan said it allows for restaurants and bars to offer their patrons drinks-to-go. So far, seven businesses are a part of it.
“They will serve a drink in a labeled cup, a specially marked cup,” Haan said. “It doesn’t have to have a cover on it. And, you can walk around within this area.”
The areas are called Central Commons and it’s only in certain parts of the downtown area, like on the Kalamazoo Mall and Bates Alley. Several signs are posted, designating where it’s OK to drink and walk.
Haan considers the initiative to be a ’pandemic-relief measure’ with the goal of increasing foot traffic and revenue in the downtown area.
“Early in the pandemic, everything was shutdown completely. And that was a huge hit not just on the businesses that were closed but kind of the overall vitality and feeling within our downtown,” Haan said. “So, we’ve had a good, gradual building of kind of coming back to downtown over the summer. We want to keep that momentum going into the Fall.”
They’re hope is that with the return of Restaurant Week, coupled with new initiative, even more people will want to come out.
He said 12 more restaurants and bars should be joining the initiative soon.
“It’s a great opportunity to come down, whether that’s on a date-night or with a family, and wonder around and enjoy our downtown in a way that you wouldn’t have been able to in the past,” Haan said.