Going Downtown

Otis and Michelle Sloan of DeLand toast each other during the 10th annual DeLand Beer Festival along East Indiana Avenue last year. Even without special events, city officials hope they can attract people downtown.

The DeLand City Commission has relaxed certain rules, hoping to assist businesses in the downtown area.

Businesses in the downtown area will have more space to set up chairs and tables outdoors, said Chris Graham, the city's community information specialist. Customers will be able to buy alcoholic beverages and carry them outdoors.

Mr. Graham said the idea behind the resolution initially came from merchants to bring more business. Additional tables and chairs will be set up outdoors from West Georgia Avenue, a small area of East Indiana Avenue and sidewalks along West Indiana Avenue.

Boundaries to open carry alcoholic beverages would be between Ohio Avenue and south to Voorhis Avenue and a west boundary of Florida Avenue and east to Alabama Avenue. The beverages must be in a specialized container. The program would run from 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

At this point, he said he believes “the merchants are waiting until the weather gets a little cooler” to take advantage of the relaxed rules.

The city will responsible for the closing and re-opening of the roads, Mr. Graham said. Merchants will take care of the tables and chairs while making sure they are sanitized.

Dan Reed, owner of Café DaVinci, 112 W. Georgia Ave.,, said the city's move would affect his business.

“I certainly think it’s going to be helpful and it’s going to bring its fair share of extra people coming to downtown and for those who don’t want to go inside,” Mr. Reed said.

The guidelines put in place because of Covid-19 have taken a toll on his business, he said.

“We’re still operating at about 50% indoors,” Mr. Reed said. “There’s still no live music. We’ve been creating more of a rest style atmosphere. There’s no standing around the bar and drinking. You have to have a seat.”

He’s operating at 100% outdoors and there are plans to put more tables on Georgia Avenue.

Mr. Graham pointed out that masks are still mandatory inside the downtown shops and people should use caution when social distancing is not an option.

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