4
| Mesa |

Downtown Mesa's Al Fresco off Main Had a Great First Weekend

Al Fresco off Main kicked off in downtown Mesa on Friday, January 15.EXPAND
Al Fresco off Main kicked off in downtown Mesa on Friday, January 15.
Evolve Public Relations and Marketing
^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

The Downtown Mesa Association (DMA) and the City of Mesa debuted Al Fresco off Main on Friday, January 15, increasing outdoor dining options for downtown Mesa restaurants. The program turns half a block of MacDonald Street at Main Street into outdoor seating for the public to eat takeout from area restaurants like Il Vinaio, Nunthaporn's Thai Cuisine, and Worth Takeaway — though all restaurants can utilize the space.

The 20,000-square-foot area features AstroTurf ground covering and 14 tables and chairs (provided by the city and the Mesa Arts Center) with umbrellas. The space can accommodate up to 40 people is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

And the first weekend seems to have been a success.

"According to our count so far, we had about 50 people come on Saturday, mostly at night and on Sunday we had about 25 in the afternoon," says Nancy Hormann, President and Executive Director of the DMA. “The response to our opening weekend was overwhelmingly positive. Families enjoyed the sunny weather and tasted a myriad of dishes while supporting our local restaurants."

The Al Fresco off Main space will be ongoing through the end of April. But before then, another feature is on the way: Takeout food will soon be delivered to the tables directly from restaurant staff.

“Several of the restaurants are already delivering, but within a week we’re going to have what we call the Downtown Dash,” Hormann says. She says the DMA expects the program's popularity will continue to grow once the delivery service kicks in.

This will involve QR codes on the tables, allowing diners to order from multiple area restaurants like Que Chevere, which was one of the first to sign up.

As far as COVID protocols go, the tables are spaced 20 feet apart, with sanitizer stations and disinfectant wipes available in the fenced-off space. And every table is cleaned once diners leave. “We really want people to be able to eat out and stay safe,” Hormann says.

Michelle Donovan, the owner of the nearby Nile Theater, says she believes Al Fresco off Main will aid downtown Mesa restaurants by giving diners and restaurants alike more outdoor space. The Nile Coffee Shop — the vegan cafe and coffeehouse attached to the theater — already has patio seating (and a takeout window), but Donovan says her patio fills up quickly.

“It is very helpful that there’s an overflow lot of tables right across the street,” she says, adding that thanks to the brightly colored umbrellas and AstroTurf, the Al Fresco off Main seating is highly visible (meaning, it's obvious where customers can take their takeout).

The patio at The Nile Coffee Shop, which owner Michelle Donovan says fills up quickly.EXPAND
The patio at The Nile Coffee Shop, which owner Michelle Donovan says fills up quickly.
Evolve Public Relations and Marketing

Looking further ahead, Hormann and the DMA are planning on possibly hosting some events.

“We’ll have some music, or we’ll have trivia nights, or maybe the comedy club will come out and do some performances,” she says, emphasizing that Al Fresco off Main will become a way to promote all downtown Mesa businesses, not just restaurants.

Hormann admits that as a new program, there may be room for improvement, and the DMA will learn as they go along.

“Come down and give us feedback if you think we can improve,” she says.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.