COVID-19 restrictions took a bite out of restaurants’ business and left patrons hungry to dine out. Picnic in the Park, an initiative by Visit Montgomery and Montgomery Parks, was a win-win solution. The program, which encourages people to order deliveries from local restaurants and eat in nine designated parks, started in August and will run at least through May. Though the idea of picnicking in a park is nothing new, the program helps make the experience seamless. Signs in the parks mark designated delivery areas for safe food drop-offs and contain a QR code, which leads to a website that lists participating eateries nearby when scanned by a cellphone. Some restaurants have staff deliver orders, while others use services such as Uber Eats or Grubhub. In September, the county made an exception to allow the consumption of alcohol in certain areas of the parks. Rather than encouraging diners to bring their own alcoholic beverages, the idea is to give restaurants a bigger boost with drink orders. The pilot program includes Jesup Blair Local Park and Acorn Urban Park in Silver Spring, Germantown Town Center
Urban Park, Norwood Local Park in Chevy Chase, Olney Manor Recreational Park, Takoma Urban Park, Wall Local Park in North Bethesda, Wheaton Local Park and Wheaton Regional Park. Each park has space for physically distanced picnicking either at tables or in picnic circles marked on the grass.