Updated as of Nov. 18, 2021 at 10:48 p.m. to include video.
Downtown Elon will be utilizing the current temporary seating outside of Pandora’s Pies to create a space for community events, in addition to the outdoor dining already in place. Kathleen Patterson, downtown development administrator of the town of Elon, hopes that this new change in the downtown area will lead to a wide variety of future events.
“There's not really a location downtown that's safe, that we can do things,” Patterson said “This will give us that and it also gives us a place to gather and have the downtown Christmas tree, have the Menorah put up on the holidays.”
According to Patterson, this change will address two main purposes: handling safety concerns and creating a sense of community. In regards to safety, before the road was closed off for temporary seating, Patterson said this area was not pedestrian friendly. She also said there have been many near-accidents in downtown Elon.
Patterson said she believes there aren't many areas within downtown that people can come together, and this space can become that.
“Being able to have a mini market where we can get vendors to come for the holidays, like having a Christmas party, we don't have one of those. Being able to let the farmer's market stretch out a little bit more, so they're not just hanging in the street,” Patterson said “Really, it's whatever our imaginations can become.”
Kimberly Holt, owner of Pandora’s Pies, said she is excited about the new changes occurring downtown, as the temporary outside seating has been good for business.
“I'm all for this and it helps our business out too, because it's right beside,” Holt said. “It's great that if a bunch of college kids are together and some want The Root, some want Tangent, some want us, then they can sit together and eat their food from different restaurants and still be together.”
Patterson sees this new development as a starting point for other changes within downtown, kicking off Elon’s new improvement plan “Streetscape.” According to Patterson, this plan will include widening sidewalks and beautification of the street to improve the cohesiveness of downtown Elon. She also hopes that with this new outdoor area, other businesses will look to improve their existing facilities and create something similar.
“It gives the idea that there's something happening,” Patterson said. “I know that that seems like a weird thing, but a lot of times when you see physical change, then people are like, ‘Oh hey, I could do that too.’ Maybe they'll look at changing their property to be something bigger, better or just be able to activate their own property.”