Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry announced that the City of Fort Wayne is working with the Downtown Improvement District (DID) to help local restaurants and businesses weather the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City of Fort Wayne is investing in DID programming that: 1) offers free meal delivery from participating restaurants to Fort Wayne residents 2) helps downtown restaurants expand, add or enhance outdoor dining options, and 3) extends the Clean & Green program beyond downtown into several urban corridors.
“Our local restaurants contribute significantly to our community’s quality of life by offering unique experiences for both residents and visitors,” said Mayor Henry. “Because the pandemic is disproportionately affecting our local restaurants and shops, we need to find creative ways to help them and their employees through this challenging time.”
“As we move into the fall and winter months, helping our local restaurants make it through the Covid-19 crisis is crucial,” said Michael Galbraith, President & CEO of the Downtown Improvement District. “Increasing the length of time that their outdoor dining areas are open and helping them serve our community with free delivery is the most effective way that we can directly help our friends and neighbors who are employed by restaurants.”
Meal Delivery Service
Beginning October 1, 2020, the DID will contract with downtown business Waiter on the Way to provide free meal delivery to Fort Wayne residents from participating local restaurants. The free delivery will be available until the end of the year. Not only can residents support restaurants by ordering meals for delivery, the Waiter on the Way service also offers a virtual tip jar, providing a way for residents to tip local restaurant staff as well as Waiter on the Way drivers.
During the months of March to July, the DID provided free meal delivery through Waiter on the Way from restaurants located in the downtown area. That effort provided more than $120,000 in delivery sales for downtown restaurants and more than $95,000 in tips to downtown wait staff.
Expanding the free delivery to the entire city will also increase jobs. Waiter on the Way will hire up to 35 more drivers and up to seven more office staff to support the expansion.
To participate, residents should visit www.WaiterontheWay.biz or call 260-422-3663.
Clean & Green Expansion
Since March, DID Clean & Green teams have added sanitation work to their ongoing downtown cleaning, litter collection and maintenance efforts. The teams use a disinfectant to spray commonly touched surfaces such as newspaper boxes, trash and recycling containers, cross walk buttons, bike racks, parking meter keypads, parking garage door handles and e-scooter and bike share handles. This effort will now be expanded to the following urban corridors: Broadway, Wells Street, South Calhoun Street, West Main Street and Fairfield Avenue. The expansion will support 147 businesses along these urban corridors and allow the DID to add jobs for new Clean & Green staff.
Outdoor Dining Expansion/Enhancement
The City of Fort Wayne and the DID will invest in heaters and outdoor seating for 14 downtown restaurants to expand and enhance their outdoor seating. Those restaurants include: Big Apple Pizza, Bistro Nota, Burger Bar Fort Wayne, Club Soda, Coney Island, Dash-In, Henry’s Restaurant, JK O’Donnell’s, Kanela, Lewis Street Grill, Próximo, The Hoppy Gnome, Landing Beer Company and Tolon.
The Meal Service Delivery program and the Clean & Green expansion are funded from the City’s allocation of CARES Act dollars received through the State of Indiana. Up to $500,000 may be spent on the programs.
The Community Development Division is also investing $37,700 of façade grant dollars in the outdoor dining expansion program; this investment is being matched with a grant from the Knight Foundation/Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne.