ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - As many businesses in Anchorage and around the state are forced to close up shop, the Anchorage Community Development Authority and EasyPark are designating free short-term parking spots for folks picking up food orders downtown.
The free 15 minute curbside parking was rolled out over the last week after Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz issued an order closing restaurants for dine-in service to help curb the spread of coronavirus. EasyPark's Melinda Gant says the decision was made to put EasyPark bags over parking meters in front of restaurants to encourage people to purchase food for pick up.
"We knew that if we just said 'we're going open up all free parking in Downtown Anchorage on the street,' it would have been customers just taking up every front of space on the store front space, which we knew was going to be problematic for the restaurants so we had to dedicate parking spaces for the restaurants," said Gant.
Gant says the targeted approach also aims to encourage social distancing while supporting the local economy.
Kate Weller, the general manager of Snow City Cafe downtown, says the new initiative allowing curbside service is helping to keep Snow City and other downtown restaurants open and serving the public as best as they can.
"The success that we have today and every day moving forward will ensure that we can keep the people we have now employed and ensure that we're open for the long haul and able to re-employ all the people we laid off, so it's really important that we are successful each and every day moving forward."
Robert Delucia is the owner of Crush Bistro. He says unfortunately, like many others, he's had to lay off staff as well, but curbside service has been instrumental in keeping a few paychecks going out to families.
"When we kicked off the to-go piece on Tuesday, it took a little while to build and those first few days I was nervous that we weren't even going to be able to retain the employees that we did," said Delucia. "Now it seems to be getting to a place where if I can keep this level of business going, I might actually be able to bring another person or two on, which I'm really hoping for."
In line with Mayor Berkowitz's hunker down order, EasyPark says all of their garages, lots, and curbside parking will be free starting Sunday March 22 until Tuesday March 31.
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