Gibbie’s has proven the concept—now let’s see some more restaurants join in.
If you’ve been down High Street this summer, you may have felt a stab of table envy when you passed Gibbie’s Pub & Eatery. It’s the only restaurant so far to take advantage of the city’s arrangements for sidewalk dining downtown, and boy has it been popular.
“There’s people outside almost all the time,” says Jillian Kelly, president of the downtown nonprofit Morgantown Art Party and a bartender and server at Gibbie’s. “People like to sit and people-watch. And sometimes there’s trivia night inside, or music, and it can be loud, so it’s another option for customers.”
The city introduced the program for “pedlets”—the name informally adopted nationwide for installations that divert pedestrians around sidewalk dining in a safe and appealing way—in the fall of 2021. It aims at a dual goal: in general, to respond to longstanding requests for outdoor dining downtown as a lifestyle improvement, and, in specific, to help downtown restaurants weather and rebound from COVID.
Gibbie’s is rebounding strongly this summer, Kelly says. “People just love sitting outside. And, before, people would drive by and wouldn’t even look. But now they’re looking because, with the flowers, it’s so colorful and inviting. Some people come up and say, ‘Oh, is this a new place?’—Gibbie’s has been here for over 30 years—or, ‘You serve food now?’ which we always have. So food sales have gone up, and it’s definitely drawn new customers in. It’s brought us back from COVID.”
For restaurants, there are some hoops to jump through. Gibbie—restaurant owner Mike Gainer—is encouraging other restaurants to go for it, and he would like to see the city make the process as easy as possible.
The half-dozen outdoor tables at Gibbie’s turn over regularly, Kelly says, so drop by anytime to enjoy some downtown summer people-watching.