Downtown Salem. (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)

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Finding a restaurant to get take-out meals downtown just got easier with the city of Salem’s new online map.

Rebecca Ziegler, city urban development project manager, said that cities ranging across the country have launched similar online maps that include restaurant hours, locations and the location of free short-term parking spots nearby.

She said that the city’s Urban Development Department had wanted to introduce something similar. With the hours of businesses in flux due to the pandemic it seemed like a good time for Salem to launch its map, she said.

For now, the map only includes restaurants in the Downtown Parking District, where businesses pay to provide parking spaces that are free for three hours. The map features information on whether each business is open or closed and if it has changed its hours, said Ziegler.

She said it also includes locations of about 20 parking spots that are free for 15-minutes for take-out (although she recognized that downtown parking has been more available lately). 

“We figured this would be a good way to do a pilot project,” she said.

She said reached out to businesses 90 in the district to get information on their hours and operations. For now, the map just includes information from restaurants and is updated hourly with information they submit, she said.

The map could be expanded to other parts of downtown and eventually the rest of the city, said Ziegler. In the meantime, she said city employees will evaluate whether the map is boosting business and if the free 15-minute parking spaces are being used for take-out.

“Ideally, we’d use it as a marketing promotion rather than a response to a pandemic,” she said.

Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.