The temperature may be dipping, but outdoor dining in the Greater Portland area isn’t dropping anytime soon.

Restaurants like The Honey Paw, Eventide, Chaval, Central Provisions, and Tipo plan to stay open throughout the cold, dark months to give us Portlanders a light at the end of the tunnel.

Many restaurants in the area are still skeptical about what the winter will bring in terms of outdoor dining and open-air options, but our state got pretty creative last year, so I wouldn’t rule out some of the alternative solutions that sprung up around the city. In my personal opinion, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the same teepee and snow globe innovations we saw during the last (or is this still the same?) pandemic.

As for the outdoor dining we’ve seen pop up on Dana Street, including Central Provisions, Amigos, and ViA VECCHiA sidewalk seating, that might be here to stay.

Remember when we used to be able to park on Dana Street? That is officially a distant memory, a part of our past. According to an article in the Portland Press Herald, these cobblestone streets will be closed to vehicular traffic to make room for permanent outdoor dining.

The article remarks that City Manager Jon Jennings and local officials are recommending projects to revamp Wharf and Dana streets, including making the cobblestone streets more walkable and less bumpy, but while still using granite stones to keep our classic city aesthetic. (You can’t deny those are really hard to walk on, even if you’re stone-cold sober.)

One idea floating around, as stated in the Press Herald article, is to make a “pocket park”. This would turn the area between Wharf and Commercial into a cute little park with access only by pedestrians.

One thing I love about this city is the walkability and accessibility as a pedestrian to maneuver around without feeling terrorized by motorized vehicles (I lived in Miami at one point… a pedestrian nightmare).

I should also add, since I know you’re wondering and muttering to yourself about it right now, is how the heck are we going to afford this? Well, like the Herald said, these projects will be funded using part of the $46.3 million of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The city collected feedback from local folks, public health workers, and businesses small and large to learn from the public how to use the funding.

Again, no project is completely finalized, but the concepts are in the works.

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