This has been a year of juggling. Juggling decisions to fight the pandemic specifically. I can say, with confidence, that no one wanted to or continues to want businesses to shut down. But, here we are...still in the midst of a pandemic that continues to force us to...well...juggle more decisions. However, one local town is getting innovative to try to help their local restaurants stay afloat throughout this nightmare known as 2020.

The City of Niles has just announced plans to turn their downtown area into an outdoor dining area, as reported by ABC 57. This new change will be temporary, only through the end of December. But, if it's successful they'll look into extending the change.

Mayor of The City of Niles, Nick Shelton, laid out some of the plans saying,

The plan is to fill this space with tables, chairs, we’ll have outdoor games, we’re working on an entertainment area with bands and performers. We’ll have menus, a QR code that you can take a picture of that’ll take you to a landing page where you can order your food down here.

My first thought is...what about the cold? Well, for those who have grown up in Michigan...it's assumed that the cold won't be that big of a deal. However, I would feel comfortable betting that if this downtown outdoor entertainment area is a success...heaters may be in the future. Again, that's a guess and maybe even a hope as I, a former Floridian, navigate my new cold environment.

In my opinion, this idea is genius. And it could be the lifeline that struggling area restaurants need as they try to survive the pandemic. This is a tricky time. As an asthmatic, I certainly don't want to catch a virus that makes breathing difficult. At the same time, I certainly don't want to see treasured local businesses go under. But, if there's an area where I can safely keep my distance AND support my local restaurants - I'm there!

I don't want it to come to this for all Michigan towns. I want everything to open back up. But, in the meantime, I'll hope that this new idea is a success for the City of Niles and that it'll influence neighboring towns to do the same.

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