With recent guidelines issued for safety against the COVID-19 pandemic by the Monroe County Health Department and the return of the IU student population, many popular local restaurants around Bloomington have expanded and adjusted their outdoor seating options.
Here's a list of some of the restaurants with outdoor seating.
Soma Coffeehouse & Juice Bar
While all locations have closed indoor dining, both the Soma on East Third Street and the one off Kirkwood Avenue are continuing to offer outdoor seating. Tables and benches have been arranged to accommodate for social distancing regulations. The coffeehouse has adopted a sanitation system, with signs indicating which tables have been cleaned and which are unavailable. Wi-Fi is still available for customers.
A weekend brunch destination for many students and Bloomington locals, the Runcible Spoon continues to offer seating both indoors and outdoors. In order to comply with statewide regulation, seating capacity has been reduced to 50% and sanitation measures have been modified. Owner Matt O'Neill said he hasn't seen any problems with students not wearing their masks inside the restaurant.
“They’re fine, the ones coming in here wear their masks, and they’re a great clientele to have,” O’Neill said. “Students are still a critical component to the business.”
Da Vinci is located on South Washington Street and is another addition to the list of Bloomington restaurants offering outdoor seating.
Manager Zach Rody said FARM lost around 35% capacity both indoors and outdoors due to the pandemic. He said the city closing down Kirkwood Avenue on weekends to allow for more socially-distanced outdoor seating and highly benefited the restaurant.
“We’re lucky,” Rody said, “That has been a major boom.”
Kirkwood Avenue is closed to traffic from 2 p.m. Thursdays to midnight Sundays, though the arrangement will end at the end of the month.
“What we do after that will be important,” Rody said. “But we appreciate the support we’ve gotten from students, parents and the community.”
Upland Brewing Company
Upland Brewing Company continues to offer appropriately distanced outdoor seating. Upland said they have committed to prioritizing the safety of the Bloomington community through sanitation efforts that are detail-oriented and guided by the health department, according to their website.
Like FARM Bloomington, Uptown Cafe has also benefited from Kirkwood Avenue being closed to traffic on weekends. Uptown Cafe has also publicly announced their commitment to the Bloomington community on their website, ensuring compliance with safety guidelines by spacing tables, providing and requiring masks and gloves for employees, offering voluntary contact tracing via their reservation system, and extending a request that guests respect and follow countywide COVID-19 safety measures.
Malibu Grill provides outdoor seating on the square. While the previous outdoor seating had to be reduced, Manager Levi Collison said there has been some help from the city.
“We were able to get permission from the city to take some parking spots from the street,” Collison said.
Besides offering limited indoor seating, Yogi’s also continues to accommodate customers with outdoor seating options. While bartop service is unavailable at this time, Yogi’s provides limited bar seating indoors and outdoors.
Brothers Bar and Grill
Like Yogi’s, Brothers Bar and Grill has followed safety regulations by stopping bartop service. However, outdoor seating is still an option to Bloomington customers.
On the corner of South Dunn and Fourth Street, Siam House offers outdoor seating. Server Pim Harrison said it's been difficult to meet customer demand, with more people wanting to eat outside than what they can seat.
“On busy days, people want to wait up to 30 minutes for outdoor seating while it’s empty inside,” Harrison said.
Offering Mexican food with a “modern twist,” Social Cantina is currently providing indoor seating as well as outdoor seating options on the square along N College Avenue and W 6th Street. In addition to providing outdoor seating, Social Cantina now also makes use of electronic menus, which customers can access via smartphone.
A neighbor to Social Cantina and under the same ownership, The Tap also has outdoor tables close to the square along N. College Avenue. While the tap faced some initial cuts to occupancy, they were able to expand their outdoor seating options to accommodate for increased demand.
“We had the patio open before everything started, but we had to cut down on seating” said The Tap employee Jacob Langfield. “We were able to work with the city to expand outdoor seating into some metered parking spaces.”