Northern Liberties debuts Easy StrEats al fresco street dining

The one-day event closes a portion of N. 2nd Street to allow for restaurants to bring their dining outdoors

The one-day event closes a portion of N. 2nd Street to allow for restaurants to bring their dining outdoors

While indoor dining is still a no-no until Pennsylvania can fully enter the green phase of reopening, al fresco is the way to go – for now. 

That’s why, this Saturday, Northern Liberties is shutting down half a mile of N. 2nd Street for an open-air, sans-car-style dining event dubbed Easy StEats. With nearly two dozen restaurants participating, the hope is that this event will help these businesses bounce back from the shutdown earlier this year. 

Between noon and 8 p.m. Saturday, Germantown Avenue to Spring Garden Street will be blocked off to vehicular traffic. Tables will be placed six feet apart and guests will be required to wear masks to and from their tables and practice safe social distancing. Participating restaurants along the corridor will be expanding their already outdoor dining areas into the street, to adjacent parklets and with outdoor café seating outside their businesses. 

The new pilot program, as approved by the city, replaces the neighborhood’s annual 2nd Street Festival, which is cancelled due to Covid-19. It’s modeled after the city’s Open Streets program and hosted by the Northern Liberties Business Improvement District. A similar, car-free street event is taking place Friday and Sunday on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philly. The East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District is hosting Open on the Avenue, where more than 20 restaurants are expected to participate. 

For Saturday’s shindig, reservations are required, which could prove tricky for business owners should tables not fill up or the forecast calls for inclement weather. But NLBID Executive Director Kristine Kennedy was nonetheless optimistic. 

“Easy StrEats is a way to enjoy our amazing and diverse food scene with expanding outdoor seating under the blue skies,” she said in a news release. 

“We encourage everyone to please make your reservations ahead of time, wear your mask to and from your table, socially distance while taking part of the event, and to put safety first in all aspects of your experience. We have wanted to close down North Second Street since Philadelphia hosted their successful Open Streets event here – and this brings back that casual and relaxed atmosphere. Plus, we have added the al fresco dining element to support our business community. This is not a festival – but a chance to eat, walk, bike and spread out safely as you enjoy our neighborhood.”

As with everywhere these days, guests planning to go are expected to follow city and state guidelines of practicing social distancing while in public spaces, using hand sanitizer, wearing masks when not seated at your table and opting to stay home if not feeling well or have been exposed to someone with a positive case of Covid-19. 

Participating restaurants include: Añejo, Bourbon and Branch, Cantina Dos Segundos, Dolce caffe, El Camino Real, Green Eggs Café, Hello Vietnam Asian Bistro, Hudson Table Philadelphia, Just Cravings, Rustica Pizza, SET NoLibs, Soy Café, Standard Tap, The 700 and Urban Village Brewing Company. More may be added later in the week. 

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