Updated: Feb 7, 2022
In the category of PROMOTION, Best Retail Promotion Award of Merit is presented to: the City of Belmont, Belmont Main Street, and Creative Solutions for Belmont Al Fresco Dining.
The City of Belmont traded vehicle traffic for foot traffic last summer when it closed Main Street on weekend evenings to take dining out under the stars. Belmont is a culinary destination, and the Al Fresco Dining promotion was created to continue and bolster that status throughout the unprecedented challenges of the past year.
The Belmont Main Street program received permission from the City and the North Carolina Department of Transportation to close Main Street to vehicle traffic on Friday and Saturday evenings during May, June, and July 2020. Belmont Main Street also worked with the state Alcohol Beverage Commission to ensure approval of off premise alcohol consumption. The City and restaurants partnered with Creative Solutions, a wedding and event business located in downtown Belmont, to decorate downtown with lights, fencing, tables, and chairs. An “Al Fresco” logo was created for use by the City and restaurants to promote a safe eating environment for the community. On each night of the event, Belmont Main Street volunteers set up a station to collection donations to support downtown businesses and raised over $20,000.
Many communities created outdoor dining spaces over the past year, but Belmont created a retail promotion to fortify restaurants and retail businesses. Retailers extended their hours to capture foot traffic generated by the restaurants, and the event organizers created an outdoor dining experience for the community. As a result of the successful Al Fresco Dining promotion, restaurants and retail establishments received much needed business through a complicated season.
One restaurant owner commented that the al fresco setup restored the seating capacity of the business back to 100%, enabling it to bring in additional serving staff on busy weekend evenings. Other owners noticed new faces in their outdoor dining rooms as the program attracted first-time customers. Many community members expressed gratitude toward the City for creating a safe space to eat and relax during the summer. The promotion successfully filled tables and allowed restaurants to continue to provide the culinary experiences that make Belmont such a special place to dine.