Downtown Bryan Needs Our Help
Downtown Bryan is still open for business during the COVID-19 pandemic – things are just looking a bit different.
Restaurants, retailers, hotels and other businesses in the neighboring city of Bryan’s downtown district have seen a major downturn as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe. A statewide order placed restrictions on certain businesses and services as part of Texas’ efforts to stop the spread of the virus, keeping many visitors and locals at home. While they have since reopened, businesses continue to navigate how to operate safely under social distancing and capacity guidelines.
Katelyn Brown, interim executive director of the Downtown Bryan Association, said that while businesses have taken a “huge hit,” the passionate entrepreneurs who own them are “not letting this defeat them.” The focus has shifted to redefine themselves to survive in these new times, she said.
“It is an ever-changing situation for these business owners, especially the restaurant owners having to navigate through different capacities and figuring out how to shift their business plans to bring people to downtown to support them,” Brown said.
Take Ronin, for example. Located at 800 N. Main Street in the historic Ice House on Main, the restaurant has been offering boxes of fresh vegetables, beef, wine and more for people to pick up and enjoy with their families at home. Brown said the businesses have been working to diversify their offerings during the pandemic, and need the community’s support.
“These local businesses need support, and anything they can do, whether it’s picking up food to go or purchasing a gift card for later use, will make a huge impact on these businesses,” Brown said.
She said DBA has also shifted its focus to draw people downtown. Its Restaurant Week, typically held in January, was brought back in mid-July for a summer edition to support downtown restaurants. Shop Downtown Bryan Week will launch next week in time for back-to-school as part of a campaign to support retailers.
Events are another major part of the Downtown Bryan experience that has been affected by COVID-19, including the cancellation of the annual Texas Reds Steak & Grape Festival in September. Brown said DBA has pivoted to creating online experiences to replace some of the events loved by tourists and residents alike. The Summer Sunset concert series wasn’t held as usual at the Palace Theater, but was livestreamed on the DBA Facebook page.
First Friday has also continued, despite the pandemic. The free evening of live music, art, shopping and dining changed to an “all-day experience,” Brown said, with content posted on DBA’s Facebook page throughout the day about activities, promotions of local businesses and ways to support downtown. While there won’t be any nonprofit groups, street performers or food trucks at the August First Friday, the Brazos Valley Farmer’s Market will be set up on Main Street from 5 to 9 p.m. Masks are required inside the street closure area.
Many businesses will also be open during their normal daytime operating hours. First Friday visitors are encouraged to practice social distancing and use the sanitation stations in front of the Queen Theatre.
People are also encouraged to purchase gift cards and place orders for pick up or delivery from downtown businesses.