New restaurants, conventions coming to Indy as COVID-19 cases rise

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INDIANAPOLIS — Downtown Indianapolis is set to usher in new restaurants and conventions this spring amidst a wave of uncertainty surrounding rising COVID-19 numbers in Marion County.

“We’re hoping that this positivity rate will very soon slow down and plateau,” added Dr. Virginia Caine, Marion County Public Health Director.

The county dipped below a 5% positivity rating in September, only to see it rise past 7% now. In a news conference, Mayor Joe Hogsett floated the idea of further restrictions should the rate hit double digits.

“Today we are beneath the 10% positivity rate that acted as a threshold for our early mitigating efforts. However, we know enough about this virus to say with certainty if we do not take it seriously, our current health orders and our own personal responsibilities as citizens, then this rate will continue to go up,” explained Mayor Hogsett, “More of our neighbors will continue to get sick, some will die, and the only options available to us may be to return to more stringent mitigation efforts.”

Downtown Indy Inc. says twelve restaurants have already closed downtown due to restrictions and a lack of conventions. Popular pizza spot King Dough will be closing their patio space next week and turning to carry-out and delivery only. This is the first time they will be doing their own delivery. It helps them escape some of the strains put on companies by delivery services like Grub Hub, while also giving work to more of their employees. It also helps the restaurant avoid any further impact from potential restrictions.

“Our dining room is already so small, we can only fit so many people in here safely with the current restrictions,” explained Alicia Sweet, co-owner of King Dough, “We are just trying to make ends meet, and keep everyone happy, healthy, and well-fed.”

The Sweets and Snacks convention just announced they will move from Chicago to Indy this spring. Many downtown businesses lean on convention-goers to support their businesses.

“It is a light at the end of the tunnel as far as bringing in more revenue into our city,” says Sweet.

“Many surrounding states aren’t able to accommodate them currently,” says Downtown Indy Inc. President Sherry Seiwert talking about conventions, “The Convention Center has created a very comfortable environment folks can operate in.”

Seiwert also says Shake Shack will be making its way downtown in spring of 2021. It will be inside the new construction, mixed-use Ardmore building that sits on North Pennsylvania Street by Massachusetts Avenue.

“Certainly, in a current pandemic situation I know that many retailers are struggling, but downtown certainly has is always been vibrant and certainly has a strong resiliency,” says Seiwert.

The Marion County Public Health Department says future restrictions lie in the hands of consumers, should people follow safety protocols, the positivity rate should drop.

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