New codes, construction allow sidewalk dining downtown
Where to eat
Vera Maes Bistro 207-209 S Walnut St, Muncie, IN 47305
Cheery American-Continental cafe with an intimate dining room & jazz on weekends, according to Google reviews.
The Caffeinery 401 S Walnut St, Muncie, IN 47305
The Caffeinery is a coffee and tea house that specializes in gourmet coffees, loose leaf teas and espresso-based beverages, according to the caffeinery.com.
Casa Del Sol Mexican Grill 206 S Walnut St, Muncie, IN 47305
Relaxed Mexican eatery offering a classic range of homestyle dishes and margaritas amid festive decor, according to Google reviews.
Outdoor dining will soon be an option for restaurant goers in downtown Muncie, but not all businesses plan to use it.
Within the last two years, construction on Walnut Street along with street codes did not allow for sidewalk dining. Now that some sidewalk construction is finished and Muncie officials have passed new codes, restaurants are now given the option to pay to be able to seat people on sidewalks in front of their businesses.
It’s a $45 fee as well as $2 per square foot for the use of right of way of the sidewalk.
Not very many restaurants currently offer outdoor dining other than Casa Del Sol Mexican Grill. Now that things have changed, some others are considering whether or not to take advantage of this opportunity.
Kent Shuff, co-owner of Vera Mae’s Bistro, said he is very excited for the restaurant's newfound ability to expand, allowing them to seat customers outside.
“We have felt very limited in terms of size since the city has redone and continues to work on construction,” Shuff said. “With the new codes and logistics allowing for us to expanding our seating, we are very excited and feel like this will attract even more people to the restaurant.”
Shuff said the restaurant is currently working on a fence that should be done by the end of this week for expansion and will be ordering additional chairs soon.
“Offering outdoor seating, along with the flowers we plan on planting along the restaurant, will give us a more attractive and competitive edge,” Shuff said. “Also, with the new roundabout and hotel in the area, we are expecting even more customers.”
Frank Reber, owner of The Caffeinery, said his business will more than likely explore the options, but they are hesitant at the moment.
“I don’t think outdoor dining would help our business so much as it just gives customers another option,” Reber said.
Indiana's unpredictable weather will be a big factor into whether or not the business officially decides to expand.
"It costs money to have outdoor seating. So it's helpful if you have it on nice days, but if you have [a lot] of bad weather, then you are really just paying more money and not being able to use it,” Reber said.
For now, The Caffeinery will not make any changes to its dining options.
“If we do, it will not be this summer because there will continue to be construction throughout the entire duration of the season. But as soon as that's finished, we will more than likely explore our options,” Reber said. “We just want to see what it looks like when it’s done and when the process is all finalized. ... I think the more we discuss it, we are more than likely going to be on board with adding it as an option.”