ALLEGANY — When members of the Enchanted Mountain Garden Club of Allegany began looking for additional ways to help the community during the pandemic, they decided to provide outdoor chairs to several restaurants in town.
As a result, several eateries that received outdoor chairs this summer were able to expand their services by accommodating more customers. This helped as area restaurants currently have to follow COVID-19 guidelines that currently permit 50 % occupancy.
Mary Linda Williams, president of the garden club, said the organization annually provides summer care and upkeep for hanging baskets and potted planters along the East Main and West Main street areas in the village.
The nonprofit organization, consisting of volunteers from the community, also sponsored other projects this summer including the purchase of “A Little Free Library” container which has donated books for all to borrow or take. The elevated box, located on the Allegany Town Hall’s property, was set up to promote walking in the community as well as tourism and is now listed on a program map of the United States.
The Garden Club also sponsored lectures in the community and conducted the annual Allegany Garden Festival, but all had to be cancelled this year because of the pandemic.
Despite that, a break-off group within the organization, the Weed and Tend group, continued on with the care of the flowering planters and beds in downtown Allegany March through October. They were joined this fall by BonaGany Inc., a newly formed St. Bonaventure University nonprofit group that helped Weed and Tend volunteers winterize the flower beds as a community service project.
As for the donation of outdoor chairs to downtown restaurants, Williams said the COVID-19 guidelines provided “perfect timing to use garden club charitable donations to extend encouragement to Allegany’s full-service restaurants that did not have outdoor seating.”
The restaurants that fell under this category, and received outdoor furniture, were Eb’s Eatery, Fusion on Main, Don Tequila’s Mexican restaurant and the Simply Sinful Ice Cream Shop. One restaurant didn’t receive the donation because it didn’t have proper outdoor frontage, while others had existing outdoor seating behind the businesses.
“They were so thrilled because it brought them more business,” Williams said of the businesses that received the chairs.
She noted funding to purchase the chairs was provided through donations to the garden club from the community.
“We take that money that was donated to us and we’re turning it back to better the community of Allegany,” she explained. “We also have other things we want to do with the (donated) money. “We have other plans for things we want to do to beautify our community and attract people to come to Allegany.”
At Fusion on the Main, Mary Hess, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Aaron, said the donation of outdoor swivel chairs was a pleasant surprise and they have been used frequently by customers.
“If it’s a nice day and doesn’t rain, we put them out for the customers to enjoy,” she said.
Of the garden club’s donation, Hess added, “It was very, very nice and generous of them.”
She noted the restaurant has been in operation for close to two years and serves “American food with an Asian twist.”