Friday opening expands downtown Newaygo serving area
We got a Social District?
You mean those cool outdoor gathering areas where one can purchase and enjoy an adult beverage while doing a little fresh air frolicking?
Yep. It’s called the Newaygo Outback.
And it is arriving this week.
The Newaygo Outback, so named for being “out back” or behind downtown retailers on the east side of M37, was created by a partnership between the USDA, the River Country Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Newaygo.
Back in July of 2020 the State enacted a new law that allowed businesses that are granted a Social District Permit to sell beer, wine, mixed spirits, or mixed drinks on their licensed premises to customers who may then consume the alcoholic liquor within the commons area of the Social District. It proved to be an innovative idea to help the restaurant business during a time when pandemic restrictions were still in place.
At the start, this initiative was jumped on by some of the bigger cities particularly in areas where a cluster of eateries and drinking establishments existed. Seeing the success of these districts, smaller towns began taking the idea and running with it to create their own enticing outdoor gathering areas. Rockford’s has been in place a couple years, as anyone who attends the Blues on the River concerts knows. This past summer Sparta joined in with their own social district.
And now it has come to Newaygo.
“Kamille Massey brought the idea of the Social Zone to the city over two years ago, and the City and Chamber believe now is the right time to have a positive, lasting impact on local families, visitors, and of course local businesses,” said Colleen Lynema, Project Coordinator.
And don’t think you’ll just be wandering about aimlessly in the parking lot. There has been some serious preparation for the Grand Opening this Friday (Nov. 11) at 4pm. We’re talking cornhole boards, firepits, group seating areas, and all in the glory of the great outdoors.
“People need to be around each other more than ever, and the Outback is another way to build community and connect with our neighbors and friends.” stated Carmen Faulkner from the River Stop Cafe. “We look forward to all of the downtown merchants and retailers benefiting from increased traffic and more happy people.”
The Outback is planned to be open through the ever popular annual Christmas Walk, Friday, December 1st, and will make its return in the Spring of 2023.
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“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”
- Eric Qualman