BRISTOL, Tenn. — To increase foot traffic downtown, Bristol, Tennessee, officials hope to turn a section of Sixth Street into a downtown dining strip.

At its work session at 5:30 tonight, Bristol Tennessee City Council will look at plans to create an outdoor dining strip on the section of downtown Sixth Street between State and Shelby streets. The move was recommended by a downtown development strategy commissioned by the city, which singled out that section of downtown as a prime area for an outdoor dining and cafe strip because of the appearance and profile of its historic buildings.

City Manager Bill Sorah said the dining strip will provide better outdoor seating options to existing businesses and hopefully spur the opening of restaurants or cafes along that section of Sixth Street.

To add the dining strip, the city would eliminate nine existing parking spaces along the eastern sidewalk and widen a section of Sixth Street’s western sidewalk from the Angry Italian restaurant to Top Hat Magic Supply from 5 feet to 12 feet. Six parking spots along Sharing Christ Worship Center would not be affected.

“I’m very excited — it is only going to increase foot traffic to Sixth Street,” said Keith Yonker, owner of the Angry Italian. “This is going to show there’s more to Bristol than State Street; there’s places on the side streets as well.”

If the city moves forward with the project, Yonker said he would add six to eight tables for outside dining, as well as possibly adding a partition and extending an awning over the dining area. The changes should make that section of Sixth Street safer by forcing drivers to slow down, he added.

Michael Peck, one of the co-owners of Elderbrew, a brewery and taproom on Sixth Street, said the strip would be a welcome addition and put Sixth Street on the radar of more people.

However, Dave Vaught, the owner of Top Hat Magic Supply, said he doesn’t expect to the addition of the dining strip or the removal of parking spaces to affect his specialty shop.

Sorah said $20,000 is already budgeted to complete the project, and the city will perform all work. He said he expects work to begin in mid-July with the project completed by mid-August. The work on Sixth Street would not block traffic most of the time, the city manager said.

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lgreiss@bristolnews.com | 276-645-2512 | Twitter: @Leif_Greiss

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