MCMINNVILLE – Downtown McMinnville has a lot to offer: law firms, coffee shops, salons, stores that carry apparel and gifts. So what’s missing? More restaurants, some leaders say. But a new ordinance that waves the restriction on beer sales within 300 feet of a church or school in that particular historic zone could help pave the way for additional eateries along Main Street.
“We have people sitting on pieces of property and they want to put restaurants in but couldn’t,” McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley told the UCBJ. “This is an effort to bring more development downtown.”
The ordinance, which was approved in a 6-1 vote Tuesday night by the city’s board of mayor and aldermen, was a slight variation from the one approved on a recent first reading. That version sought to abolish the 300-foot rule citywide. This ordinance narrows the scope to the C-1 historic downtown district, which has a smattering of churches in its vicinity, including one that meets in a commercial building right on Main. That has hindered additional restaurants from locating there. Haley called the change a compromise after some church and school groups protested.
Brook Chastain, co-director of Main Street McMinnville, a non-profit that works to promote and revitalize downtown, says there are currently limited dining options in the area. Only one restaurant, Collins River BBQ, serves dinner. Now that the above measure has passed, she said they would be “working very hard to recruit more restaurants to the downtown area.”
“Restaurants draw the foot traffic that will entice other businesses and shop owners to occupy our vacant spaces,” she said. “If we can get a few more restaurants in with dinner options, we can encourage business owners to stay open later (etc). It will be a big snowball effect.
“I do expect to see some huge jumps on our activity downtown in the next few months,” she added. “It will be exciting.”