Downtown Northville to unveil 'heat in the street' as businesses embrace outdoor space

In downtown Northville on a chilly November day, people still sitting outside in the sun for lunch.

The city has had Main Street blocked off for months, expanding outdoor dining. A social district in place so people can enjoy a cocktail to go, just trying to keep people coming - to keep businesses going amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Now we're looking at this heat in the street which is a new outdoor dining concept for the winter months," said Lori Ward director of the Downtown Development Authority.

But what does heat in the street mean?

"It's a European approach to this outdoor dining - so we'll be having both pods and stands," she said.

Stands - or vending kiosks - where downtown restaurants will be able to sell specialty items on thier menus. And pods are heated, open-air spots where people can grab a high top table and stand there to eat, drink, and be merry.

"In an open-air environment - to kind of embrace the winter, instead of trying to keep it out," Ward said.

Ward says Northville businessman Manfred Schon who is originally from Germany, came up with the idea and raised nearly $100,000 to make it happen.

"He brought this idea to me a couple of months ago and said this is what we do in Europe when it gets cold - we celebrate it and we have all these winter markets and winter festivals, and I think this might be a really good idea for downtown Northville," Ward said.

And people visiting downtown Northville say it's a great idea.

"I think it's fabulous," said Carolyn Bovair. "To keep people safe when they're outside, to keep them coming into the restaurants - keep them coming into the town - the businesses - tremendous idea."

"I think it will be really good for Northville to keep the businesses going," said Red Walczak.

"That's what you pray for every day is that it works out and these people can maintain some type of a business," said Chuck Bovair.

FOX 2 met some people today who were curious and came out to see if these pods were already up - we're told to look for them around Thanksgiving.

"A unique product down here that other communities aren't doing so hopefully it will be a draw," Ward said. "People will be curious about it and come to Northville and spend an evening with us."