Third Street is shut down every Friday night to help businesses in downtown Winona stay open during the pandemic.
Starting back in June 2020, the Winona Main Street Program teamed up with the Winona Chamber of Commerce to start an event they called Dine Out Downtown.
During this recurring event, most of Third Street is blocked off from traffic to allow restaurants to place more outdoor seating for customers in the street itself. This also allows the shops to place some of their products outside for customers to view and buy.
Blooming Grounds, Island City Brewery and The Oaks Wine Bar have also hosted live music.
For any children who come to the event, there is Dr. Bob’s Puppet Show outside of Nate & Ally’s.
Christie Ransom, president of the Winona Chamber of Commerce, was one of the people to help organize and get the event up and running.
“I got a heads up before the shelter in place was lifted that the first phase of restaurant reopening would be outdoor dining only,” Ransom said.
Of course, restaurants that had outdoor seating would be just fine, but most restaurants in downtown Winona do not have any outdoor seating arrangements.
“We wanted to offer the opportunity for the restaurants without outdoor seating to expand into the street,” Ransom said. “This is where the idea for closing Third Street started.”
For the event to happen, Ransom and her team had to work on the technicalities to make sure it could work logistically.
After that, the idea had to go to the City Council for a vote to see if it could become a reality.
“Unanimously the council supported it,” Ransom said. “On a Tuesday they voted and, on that Friday, Dine Out Downtown started.”
Starting at 4 p.m., Third Street gets blocked off from traffic to allow restaurants to place outdoor seating for customers so they can dine out and listen to live music from local artists.
“It’s been really well received by the community, and we hope that this becomes a favored event,” Ransom said.
Ransom mentioned there will be some new things that will be introduced, but that most are currently under wraps.
According to Ransom, one of the new things to come is an outdoor living room with tea service.
“Watch the Main Street Program or the Chamber of Commerce Facebook pages for any updates,” Ransom said.
According to an employee at The Oaks, the event has helped the business since they are only open on Fridays due to the pandemic.
Due to the weather this past Friday, it wasn’t as lively of an event, but there was still live music.
“There’s been a lot of traffic at the businesses, and when I go downtown to see how things are going, most of the places are packed,” Ransom said.
Ransom said the hope is to continue Dine Out Downtown in the spring and summer, and even after the pandemic is over.
Dine Out Downtown is every Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will continue until the end of October.