Downtown restaurants are providing curbside service following emergency orders to shut down dining rooms because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Here, Cashi Miller of Beer Army, left, delivers an order to Marilu Randolph. Photo provided by Swiss Bear Inc.
While some Downtown New Bern restaurants and shops have opted to shut down temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most are still open for business with adjusted hours and a more limited menu to keep it simple for customers.
DSwiss Bear, Inc. is supplementing the shutdown of downtown restaurant dining rooms and bars.
The organization’s website has been transformed into a gift card purchasing directory and most establishments have created curbside and delivery options for customers.
Downtown business owners jumped into action before the call from Governor Cooper was made Tuesday to shut down dining rooms by holding an emergency downtown meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
They began a gift card initiative and discussed options for takeout, including what to do about parking in the event dining in restaurants was temporarily halted.
Swiss Bear Executive Director Lynne Harakal said, “Our downtown community made these preparations in advance to help sustain the downtown business community. Many businesses are still recovering behind the scenes from Hurricane Florence and that is why it is so important to continue buying local.”
The City of New Bern staff worked on Wednesday evening to provide allotted parking spaces for curbside pickup for each business providing the option.
Ward 1 Alderman and local businessowner Sabrina Bengel said, “I’m proud of how quickly our team responded and got this in motion. We will continue to work together and do whatever we can to help our community through this situation.”
Businesses have been grouped together by location and have been given 1-3 spaces for their curbside service. Downtown parking enforcement will continue normal operations, but the spaces for curbside service will be reserved for the foreseeable future.
Swiss Bear is emphasizing that the community is still able to support downtown businesses even if they don’t feel comfortable going out in public by using the gift card program.
Customers can also continue to help their favorite local businesses by shopping online, tipping well, and sharing their posts on social media.
Swiss Bear, Inc. announced that the state of North Carolina has selected New Bern as the host of the 40th Annual NC Main Street Conference at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center and throughout downtown from March 10-12.
The conference stems from The Main Street Program, which is a proven and successful economic development method that helps renew interest, energy and prosperity in the central business districts of small and mid-sized communities across the state.
The conference itself will explore the impact of the program over the past forty years and will look to the future for forthcoming areas of engagement. The three-day event will consist of keynote speakers, break out session seminars, guided tours around town and a chance for attendees to experience what historic Downtown New Bern has to offer on their own.
Swiss Bear Executive Director Lynne Harakal said, “This is a powerful way to communicate to the rest of the state how Downtown New Bern has recovered since Hurricane Florence and to encourage future visitation to our area. We have bounced back stronger than ever and people are taking notice.”
The event is the largest statewide downtown revitalization conference in the country, and it brings together all individuals and parties interested in economic growth and success for downtown communities. Attendees include over 700 downtown economic development professionals, elected officials and local government staff along with volunteers, business and property owners, consultants, vendors and sponsors that are all involved in the betterment of downtown districts and rural communities across the state.
Swiss Bear, Inc. (SBI) facilitates development of the greater downtown area through leadership and planning that empowers community stakeholders to promote and enhance New Bern’s unique cultural and natural resources. SBI is a 501 (c)3 entity that is led by a Board of Directors composed of volunteers representing specific stakeholders in greater downtown.