Social district a ‘game changer’ for bars and restaurants in downtown Farmington

When the Farmington Downtown Development Authority was working on their calendar last year, before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled most events, a pop-up beer garden was in the works. It was going to complement a summer concert series in the park.

But this year, should an outdoor concert series work, officials won’t have to worry about building a beer garden. The Syndicate, a social district that allows for alcoholic beverages to be purchased from local businesses and consumed in designated areas downtown, provides that need for them. Not only does The Syndicate get people walking around downtown, it provides an economic boost to downtown businesses.

And that’s the whole point.

The bars and restaurants participating in The Syndicate have been bolstered by the social district since its debut on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2020, business owners say.

“We love to hear that,” says Kate Knight, director of the Farmington DDA. “We’re looking to buoy their spirit and their bottom lines.”

“[The Syndicate] seems to be catching on pretty quickly,” says Scott Freeman, general manager of the Civic Theater

As bars and restaurants prepare to reopen their establishments to indoor dining on Monday, Feb. 1, The Syndicate provides an appreciated extra revenue stream; state restrictions will limit the amount of indoor customers to 25 percent capacity. Hopefully, the social district will long outlast capacity restrictions and COVID-19 itself.

“When looking back on this, people will look and say, Hey, why couldn’t we do this before? It’s opening people’s eyes,” says Scott Freeman, general manager of the Farmington Civic Theater. “When I was on the DDA, the goal was to create a pedestrian-oriented experience. What better way to create a free flow of foot traffic downtown?”

The Syndicate is new and will continue to evolve. But it plays a part in a larger vision, one of a more vibrant and dynamic downtown Farmington.
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