SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A portion of downtown Spartanburg will be closed starting at 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, and it’s all for the sake of local restaurants.
7 News learned how guidelines, like social distancing, will be enforced.
If you’ve visited downtown Spartanburg, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Lieutenant Lee Raines.
Lt. Raines has been patrolling the downtown area for 25 years.
“This is my home,” Lt. Raines said. “I have not wanted to work at any other part of the police department. This is where I’ve always been.”
During his time downtown, Lt. Raines has become good friends with many of the business owners. So, when the Coronavirus forced them to close, he was heartbroken for them.
“The sidewalks were rolled up and it just became a ghost town,” Raines said.
That’s why–after Governor Henry McMaster announced that restaurants could offer outdoor dining again–Raines, along with city leaders and several business owners, decided to do something special.
“The number one question that I get asked by my staff is ‘When can we come back?’ Now, it’s such a relief to be able to give them an answer,” General Manager of Wild Wing Cafe Channing Dezern said.
They’ll be closing Main Street, from Church Street to Magnolia Street, with barricades. Those barricades will be put up at 3:00 a.m. on Thursday.
“That’s going to allow them to bring some tables out into the roadway, to make it so they can have some expansion of their outside dining now,” Lt. Raines said.
“Give them the opportunity to make up some of the losses they have, for sure, seen as a result of COVID-19,” Christopher George, with the City of Spartanburg, said.
Lt. Raines said it will be up to each individual restaurant to make sure both employees and customers are following guidelines, like practicing social distancing.
“All of the food will be set at the end of the table,” Dezern said. “They’ll pass it out amongst themselves.”
Police won’t get involved unless they get a complaint.
“They know what to do. They know what’s expected of them,” Lt. Raines said. “They’re going to do everything they possibly can to make sure things work.”
Besides having tables eight feet apart, with no more than eight people at each table, those at Wild Wing Cafe will be wearing masks and gloves, and they’ll also be limiting the interaction between server and customer by offering digital menus.
“You just hover your phone camera over the QR code and it pops up a menu on your phone,” Dezern said.
Both the city and the restaurants are excited about what the event could mean.
“We want this to go super well, because that’s how we take the next step,” George said. “We can get back a little bit of that normalcy that we’re all craving right now.”
“I think it’ll be great,” Dezern said. “I don’t think we’re going to have to police the situation per say, but we’ll be there if needed. Everybody’s going to be welcomed and it’s going to be a fun environment.”
It’s possible that the road closure could last through the weekend. Lt. Raines said they’re going to see how Thursday goes and decide after that.
If you’re not feeling well or don’t feel safe coming out, Spartanburg Police and downtown businesses ask that you stay at home.