First installment of ‘Dine on 25’ to begin in downtown Riverhead tonight

It’s official.

The first run of “Dine on 25” will take place Thursday, July 16, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. 

The event, which will be repeated July 30, Aug. 13 and Aug. 27, will shut down Main Street in downtown Riverhead so that local restaurants and businesses can put tables and chairs on the street and serve customers.

The event is being organized by the Riverhead Business Improvement District along with the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce. 

“Historic Main Street will close to vehicle traffic and allow pedestrians to spread out and stroll safely; as dining tables and chairs spill out onto the sidewalks and street so our downtown restaurants, breweries, and distillery can comfortably serve the locals they love, and our east-end visitors alike,” the chamber said in a press release.

The BID proposed the event as a way of making up for the loss of the popular “Alive on 25,” which shut down Main Street every other Thursday for two months to allow for live bands, vendors and food along the road. Patchogue, where the original “Alive After 5” originated, has hosted a similar event on Sundays to allow restaurants to serve customers in the street.

“Alive on 25” was one of many events canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which required restrictions on large congregations of people. 

“Dine on 25 is an innovative solution-based event series hosted by the Riverhead BID to help our local eateries and downtown businesses recover losses after the COVID-19 shutdown,” the chamber said in a release.

Unlike Alive on 25, only local restaurants and businesses will be allowed to have tables at Dine on 25. 

In addition, for Dine on 25, reservations are required in order to maintain greater movement along Main Street, according to the chamber. 

Restaurants can also offer takeout service, and diners can sit at benches and tables along the riverfront and behind East End Arts. Picnic tables and benches are first come, first served, and are open to the public at all times, according to the chamber. 

Downtown retailers and service providers are welcome to display their goods and signage, harnessing the space traditionally reserved for cars, according to the chamber. 

In addition, face masks covering the mouth and nose are required when not seated at a reserved table. That applies to people strolling down the street, placing an order or walking to and from the restroom, according to the chamber. 

Social distancing will also be in effect, as people are urged to remain at least six feet apart from people not in your group. Diners are also asked to check the menus of restaurants online beforehand to reduce the amount of time spent ordering. 

“Please be kind,” the chamber said in its release. “Owners, bartenders, servers, and kitchen staff are operating under a new model and at their max, all while wearing a mask and constantly sanitizing. They move furniture so you can enjoy a nice meal outside, they’ve changed their menus to make sure you get the best quality of food, employees are health-screened multiple times a day.

“We’re all doing our best, and want nothing but the best for you.”

The fireworks show that the BID had planned for its Alive on 25 event originally set for July 3 will instead be held in December at the Holiday Bonfire, according to BID president Steve Shauger.