Niles Third Thursdays ramp up in participation

NILES – In the warm Thursday evening weather, music, dance, boutiques and dogs were celebrated throughout downtown Niles for a “paw-ty.”

Third Thursday was in full swing from Front Street to The NODE on Second Street, and up E. Main Street and around to Third Street where Luxe Wagon was stationed at Iron Shoe Distillery. Eighteen businesses ranging from restaurants, bars and fitness studios participated in the May 20 Third Thursday, which raised money for the Humane Society of Southwest Michigan.

“We’re excited to see more interest in growth. We are trying to get everyone involved,” said Eat Drink Niles representative Laura Tuthill.

At Iron Shoe Distillery, the busy evening allowed dogs to join their families in the outdoor dining area, and Luxe Wagon’s unique mobile truck parked out front full of fresh fashion.
“I started parking here before the Third Thursdays for their grand opening, now I’m just kind of in their lineup,” said Luxe Wagon owner Paige Fessenden.

She plans on bringing the boutique from Edwardsburg to Niles for more Third Thursdays in the future.

On Main Street, restaurants were busy, many with Third Thursday offerings.

Niles Brewing Company, 206 E. Main St., and The Brass Eye, 205 N. Second St., both had “tap takeovers,” with guest breweries featured.

The owner of The Brass Eye, Bryan Williams, has begun serving limited cocktails again for patrons to enjoy at The NODE.

Though not back to a full cocktail lounge, Williams said the bar-turned-bottle shop is “pre-gaming” for the day it might.

At The NODE, at the corner of E. Main and N. Second streets, Justin Flagel of Red Chuck Productions was playing music from digital and vinyl formats. Theory One Productions contributed audio equipment to make sure the sounds filled the area. Flagel was also running trivia intermittently, with winning teams receiving donated gift cards and wares from Niles businesses. He encouraged and collected donations for the humane society throughout the set.

As part of Eat Drink Niles, Flagel said Third Thursdays never officially went away. Some businesses, like Pizza Transit, 215 E. Main St., kept special offerings.

“[Eat Drink Niles] offered Third Thursday up beyond downtown Niles, to anyone in the 49120 zip code, and opened it up to all businesses, not just restaurants [to participate],” Flagel said.

At 7:30 p.m., Lacey Peters, owner of Lace Studios, 211 E. Main St., and Daysha Amster led a free Zumba class at The NODE to end the evening. Lace Studios recently opened, and Peters was excited to get involved in the community again. When organizer Tuthill reached out to her to get involved with Third Thursday she jumped at the chance.

“I said ‘how can I help?’ Fitness is my forte,” Peters said.

Peters and Amster led a class right at The NODE, as participants danced the rest of Thursday night away.

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