City considers major street closures to expand outdoor dining

The city of Indianapolis might close portions of Massachusetts Avenue, Monument Circle and Broad Ripple Avenue in an effort to accommodate more outdoor dining as restaurants reopen to sit-down customers.

Last week, Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine announced that Marion County restaurants would be able to begin reopening Friday for outdoor dining as Marion County’s enters the second phase of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s reopening plan.

Restaurants will have to maintain capacity at 50% or less, and only restaurants with outdoors seating are allowed to open for sit-down service. Hogsett said then the city was considering ways to expand the public rights of way to make room for diners and that guidance would be coming soon.

Hogsett is expected to make an announcement Tuesday morning regarding the Dine Out Indy program.

On Monday, city councilor Zach Adamson, who chairs the council’s public works committee, said in a Facebook post that the city will soon start closing down some major commercial corridors to offer restaurants the ability to expand their outdoor seating and to give pedestrians greater access to public rights of way without having to sacrifice social distancing.

Massachusetts Avenue, from North Delaware Street to North College Avenue; the southern half of Monument Circle; Georgia Street from Illinois to Pennsylvania streets; Illinois Street from Georgia Avenue to Market Street; and Broad Ripple Avenue from the Monon Trail to College Avenue are all being considered for temporary closure, Adamson’s post said.

Closing Massachusetts Avenue, for example, would give pedestrians a 24-foot thoroughfare to safely walk while allowing businesses to expand outdoor seating into the street, if they wish to.

“Commitments to ensure that our city can reopen safely is our goal,” Adamson wrote. “We understand, no solution is ever going to make 100% of the people 100% happy, but I’m excited to share some of these preliminary efforts.”

He said the city is also creating a special permit that will help expedite the permitting process for restaurants to expand outdoor seating.

The city wants to hear from restaurants on temporary outdoor seating options. Marion County restaurant owners are encouraged to visit to share details about their current outdoor seating, or lack thereof, with city officials.

Additionally, Indy Chamber will host a webinar at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday about the street closures and program. To register, visit

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28 thoughts on “City considers major street closures to expand outdoor dining

  1. How insanely stupid is this? What permits does a business need? How long does it take do obtain them? Where is the Health Department? How do they serve alcohol? Where do the tables and chairs come from? Where do people park? Just open it up with appropriate social distancing and let the free market and the customer determine what works.

  2. This seems like a way to make it even harder to get to the very businesses they are trying to help. I get the concept of thinking out of the box but the patrons that use these restaurants will need to be able to get to them in the first place. Closing Broad Ripple Ave and Mass Ave might make that impossible. Why not utilize the parking lots that are scattered about these neighborhoods instead. In the long run you will loose about the same amount of parking but still have the right-of-way for folks to get around on.

    1. I read this too about Tampa. We are basically in the infancy of reopening. Let’s not take too many chances with our health.

  3. This is laughable. Hogsett and his advisors are complete idiots. How does this bizarre plan work for businesses outside of downtown? A more thought out plan would be to have a plan for Center Township (basically downtown) and allow the surrounding townships to follow the state regulations. Typical Dem one size fits all mentality. This guy has no idea what he’s doing. I have a business in Warren Township in a strip center and we can’t use this stupid sidewalk program.

  4. It’s a great idea. Every major city is doing it. People will figure out how to get around and it will allow these great restaurants to survive. Parking lots don’t work. Most are privately owned and not attached to a restaurant to allow service.

    1. Rob, obviously you don’t own a restaurant or retail business outside downtown.

  5. This is just about one of the stupidest things I have seen yet. Mass Ave – little to no public parking as the surrounding neighborhoods don’t allow public parking. The only “public parking” is crazy limited, unless you want to walk 1/2 mile. Restrooms, are people allowed inside to restrooms, or are they going to require porta potties outside next to the dining area? Permits, are they free? If not, how smart is it to charge a hurting business. Business owners, in case he has not noticed, are smart. They want to survive, but he is making it ever so grim for them. Most are going the extra mile to bring safety to their patrons and employees without his so called guidance. I don’t think we need the likes of Hogsett and the ridiculous city council mandating half baked ideas for ALL. The surrounding counties have been open for weeks now. Their businesses have their patron requirements, and employee requirements, and all has gone well. Why not take note from them, and stop trying to reinvent a square wheel and hope it works.

    1. Karen, you must have forgotten Democrat hacks are omniscient. These boob screw up practically everything they touch.

  6. This is a really smart idea. It’s already been proven to work in other major cities. And now is the perfect time for such an experiment while traffic remains well below normal levels (which is also really low compared to other cities). Odd time require out-of-the-box ideas. And if it doesn’t work or if it causes unforeseen problems, just change it.

  7. Great idea!. I was just thinking (this afternoon, in fact) that the City should close Mass Ave to vehicular traffice to give businesses there an opportunity to expand outdoor services. Would love it if Chatterbox could offer jazz on the street!

  8. Excited to see this! I think it’s great for downtown since so many people bike, walk or park a few blocks away anyway!

    Yes, this proposal does not help restaurants out side of downtown and it might work in some places and maybe not in others… Depends on the street layout really, but Mass Ave and monument circle are great locations to try it out.

    I hope restaurants in other areas find some ways to boost business and make it through this time too!

  9. Very interesting that this has been touted as a typical Dem thought. It is not. The plan has been proposed in [major] cities across the nation and by administrations of each party. Can we cease with asinine party pandering and focus on benefits for citizens and business. So you don’t like the plan, then suggest something else. But, to do nothing is not a good plan. To only complaint without suggesting a fix is myopic. The objective is to help restaurants return to service, albeit slowly and in a significantly altered plan. So, why might others suggest? And, yes, how about walking 1/2 mile for health and fresh air. Indianapolis is a city, definitely not a world class city, but nevertheless a city where parking is indeed limited. Cities are not designed around parking lots. If one cannot park within 100 ft of a destination, then perhaps one should seek another destination.It is interesting to note that many park at malls, then walk as far or even much farther to reach dining and shopping destinations.

  10. walk a half-mile, some 8-9 minutes. just to have dinner?
    nah. I want to park right outside the restaurant or i am not going to go there.

    have some private food and drink on a public thoroughfare?
    nah. I want to park right outside the restaurant or i am not going to go there. additionally, it is a public thoroughfare…for cars,

    wait. are the sidewalks closed to traffic, also?

    think i will just stay home and be miserable.

  11. How do you keep the pan handlers from bothering everyone? Just let the Restaurant’s open. Gezzz were all grown ass adults i can keep myself and my family safe if we decide to go for dinner.

  12. I like this idea. If it does get approved, the restaurant owners will just have an added option to move some table outside and maybe provide a pop-up tent cover for shade and rain. There are plenty of restaurants that already provide outdoor dining in these areas and this will give them and others the space needed for distancing. The areas up for consideration are unique to Indianapolis and a unique solution is worth a try at least. The concept is not for everyone but myself and many others who live/ work/ shop & dine in these areas will enjoy the added street life for a temporary amount of time. Thank you to all who are hard at work making our city such a great place!:)

  13. Give me liberty or give me death. Patrick Henry 1775

    Liberty is a choice, not bureaucrats picking winners and losers.

    If you are uncomfortable stay home, if not go out to eat, just don’t lick the handrail at the airport.

    We must all get COVID-19 to get the antibodies to ward it off, “herd immunity”

  14. There are not many pleasant days to sit outside in Indianapolis. It is either too hot, too cold, or raining. You are not in Florida folks. I can guarantee this will hurt the business on the closed streets,not help. I will avoid any contact with any business on a closed street. By the end of October eating outside will be finished until next spring. Who would want to sit outside during July and August? Our downtown streets have been ruined by some grand design already. This is very dumb idea.

  15. You ever try and get a permit in Indianapolis, we will be on COVID 25 before they get issued. The process, Architect submits plans to the state and are reviewed and inspected by Fire Marshal, Dept. of Health, Hysterical Society, elevator inspector, building inspector. electrical inspector, plumbing inspector and oh I’m sure I forgot at least 1/2 dozen other agencies. Good plan though Joe, it looks as if you not completely asleep at the wheel, mean while the doughnut counties are relishing the business.

  16. It never rains in May. This is a pandemic. Some caution seems necessary, particularly give the number of cases in Marion County. The mayor and council gets trounced for taking a conservative approach with regard to health and safety.