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Downtown Eats: A new way to dine outdoors

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The City of Rochester is introducing a new program called Downtown Eats, a unique way to dine outdoors, support Rochester restaurants, and enjoy the downtown.

Several public tables have been placed in the immediate downtown area, all sporting special QR codes that lead visitors to a website listing restaurants willing to make deliveries. The site also includes restaurants that are listed on the Doordash and Grubhub apps. 

The brightly colored picnic tables can be found in Central Square/Parson Main Park and in the courtyard of the City Hall Annex. There’s an existing picnic table at Factory Court (on North Main Street) and several café-style bistro tables on municipal grounds. The website includes a map with table locations.

Matt Wyatt, the city’s Public Information & Community Engagement Manager, describes the effort as an “innovative way to attract people to the downtown.”

“All you have to do is find a table, scan the QR code, call the restaurant of your choice and pay for your order over the phone,” said Wyatt. “I tested it out with a group of friends and we received food from two different restaurants within 20 minutes!”

The need for outdoor dining was apparent to city staff during the start of the pandemic. In an effort to support downtown restaurants, temporary outdoor dining areas were created along North Main Street and Hanson Street within two weeks of the shutdown, according to Wyatt. The new tables take it a step further and provide additional options in alternative settings. 

“We want people to visit Rochester, get something to eat, and enjoy time outside,” said Wyatt. “It’s been a long year with COVID-19… The public tables are a great way to stay healthy outdoors, gather with friends and family, and support local establishments. We plan to add more restaurants to the list in the next few weeks.”

Downtown Eats was supported by the city’s Department for Economic Development. Director Michael Scala states that the initiative is unique and unlike most outdoor dining options in New Hampshire. 

“This effort is actually part of a bigger initiative we’ve been working on,” said Scala. “Our Destination Rochester website not only encourages residents and visitors to dine outdoors with Downtown Eats, it also includes free public assets, arts and entertainment options, historical information, and numerous recreational opportunities.”

Destination Rochester was created to inform residents and visitors of the many ways to spend time in Rochester. 

“Even longtime residents are sometimes unaware of what we have to offer here,” Scala continued. “The website is a resource for anyone looking to spend the day in Rochester. The best part, most of the opportunities we’ve included are public and totally free.”

To learn more about Destination Rochester or Downtown Eats, visit www.DestinationRochesterNH.com or contact Matt Wyatt at (603) 330-7195. 

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