Springfield Program Strives to Take Dining Option to the Next Level

The Great Outdoors

The term ‘parklet’ isn’t exactly new. Larger municipalities like San Francisco, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Chicago, and others have been using it, officially or unofficially, for at least a few years now to describe efforts to repurpose and reimagine parking spaces for recreation, dining, retail, and other uses. It’s starting to be heard more in Springfield, and it will certainly become a part of the lexicon in the future thanks in large part to $2 million worth of grants being awarded to area establishments and properties to take outdoor dining in the city to at least the next level.

Indeed, there will be at least a few parklets created through these grants, including one at Granny’s Baking Table on Bridge Street. Todd Crossett, co-owner of the bakery, said he’s been researching the concept and, working with a local architect, has come up with a plan to bring the popular eatery, which features pies, pastries, beignets, and sandwiches, out into a large parking space originally meant for a van — 8 feet by 20 feet — and a few feet of the adjoining sidewalk, and thus bring something new and different to the city. “We’re going to do something a little funky and take over a parking space,” he explained. “I think it will be the first of its kind, and it will be great for the city because it will generate more revenue than a parking space, because the space is free.” Elaborating, he said Granny’s, drawing inspiration from what has been created in Evanston, Ill. and other communities, will create a tented, three-season dining deck that will include three tables and chairs as well as an awning, which can all be easily removed for the winter.

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