“Street Eats” Comes To An End In Charlotte, But Did It Pave The Way For Future Events?

CHARLOTTE, NC – It’s a sign of the times. Street Eats is no more. Last year, The city of Charlotte approved a temporary grant program that allowed restaurants and merchants in Plaza Midwood, Uptown, and SouthEnd to open up dining options on the street.

There was live music, open space, and an opportunity to serve people along Thomas street in Plaza Midwood.

“This is actually made possible and funded through the city of Charlotte’s street eats program. Which has also allowed us to use parking spaces for the dining area,” said Renee Bradley of the Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association back in October 2020.

Plaza Midwood was the first to get up and running, but the street eats program expanded to Uptown and SouthEnd.

“I think you saw the small businesses being able to obviously serve their customers in a safe way. And then also you had the neighbors and people that live in the community being able to walk and bike somewhere,” said Erin Hunter.

Hunter founded Lets Meet CLT. She worked with others to get Street Eats off the ground last fall as the pandemic continued to shudder businesses.

“It did allow people who didn’t feel comfortable going anywhere to definitely have the outside,” explained Hunter.

Hunter says the outdoor dining and events have taken off in the last couple of months, which is why this past weekend was so difficult.

“I kind of shed a tear. I was a little sad,” said Hunter.

The grant with the city ran out. Street Eats is no more. But there appears to still be an appetite for the concept.

“The amount of people that stopped to say oh my gosh why are you taking it down? What are the next plans? Just showed that there is so much opportunity along Thomas avenue,” said Hunter who helped take down the Thomas St. set up.

While the end of street eats signals a potential return to normal,  some are pushing for the idea to continue beyond the pandemic.

“I do think that outdoor events are never going to go away. If anything, they’ll become more and more popular,” said Hunter.