Three weeks ago, when Philadelphia first introduced new processes for restaurants looking to add outdoor dining, one of the options listed was temporary street closures. And now the first street closure is happening. Five blocks of East Passyunk Avenue in South Philly will be closed off to traffic for one weekend, with almost 30 restaurants setting up tables on the street July 10, 11, and 12.
Open on the Ave, as the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District is calling it, will stretch along the diagonal street from Dickinson to Broad. Restaurants and bars will be able to operate outside Friday from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. At 5 p.m. Sunday, all goes back to “normal.”
Everyone has to wear a mask unless sitting at a table eating or drinking, and people who didn’t come together are supposed to stay distanced, though that’s pretty hard to enforce. The business improvement district wants diners to make reservations — through the individual restaurants — but there’s first come, first served seating too. Altogether, about 200 seats will be added.
The restaurants participating range from sit-down destinations like Le Virtù to fast-casual eateries like P’unk Burger. Noord, Bing Bing Dim Sum, Barcelona Wine Bar, Big Catch Poke, Black & Brew, Cantina Los Caballitos, Essen, Flannel, Fond, ITV Philly, Isabella Pizza, Manatawny Still Works, Marra’s, Noir Philadelphia, Palace of Indian, Perla, Philly Bagels, Pistolas Del Sur, P.O.P.E., River Twice, Stateside, Stogie Joe’s, Teas n’ Mi, and the Bottle Shop are all on the list.
Along with the food, shops are setting up sidewalk tables. The business improvement district is both describing what sounds like a summer festival and also maintaining that since the street is closed to vehicles, people will have room to follow social distancing guidelines. There won’t be music or other entertainment in an attempt to avoid a party atmosphere.
If all goes smoothly, additional temporary street closures will likely happen throughout the summer.