It was only when I was heading down Elmwood earlier today and saw a roadside grill that I remembered that it was Cinco de Mayo. It didn't take long to forget about the holiday, as it was the grill
that remained emblazoned upon my mind. I was so excited to see a restaurant taking the time to interact with pedestrians in a way other than just setting up a passive patio, that I decided to inspect the scene a bit closer. I walked up to Solé's chef AJ Della Selva and congratulated him on his outdoor setup, and he acknowledged that he was preparing the grill for a Cinco de Mayo celebration later on in the day.
By having the cookout on the sidewalk, Solé had created, if only for a day, a vibe that is rarely seen in an urban setting. Wouldn't it be nice to see this sort of vibrancy all the time? Alas, I'm sure that there is some sort of rule or regulation that would prohibit any sort of permanent setup like this because of modern society's penchant for liability, but that doesn't mean that restaurants and retailers couldn't be more creative when it comes to creating sidewalk attractions.
How enticing would it be to see a gallery feature a painter outside for passersby to see? Or a clothing boutique with a model, wearing some of the latest fashions, strutting his or her stuff? So often we relegate what we sell or serve to the interior of the store or restaurant.
In the end, Solé's demonstration not only attracted eyeballs to the master griller, who was serving up pork tacos, chulupas, etc., the setup allowed AJ to hand out flyers broadcasting the $3 shots of tequila and the $20 buckets of beer inside. Just think of all the possibilities when it comes to utilizing a sidewalk effectively - demonstrations, readings, performances, creations... there are plenty of ways to get a message across to potential customers instead of waiting for them to walk through the front door on a whim.