Media’s Dining Under the Stars is Gearing Up for a Fabulous 2024 Season

Every spring in Media, PA, a stunning transformation takes place on State Street on Wednesday evenings. The usually-bustling commercial hub is closed to traffic between Jackson and Orange, and becomes a pedestrian-friendly piazza and al fresco dining paradise lined with outdoor dining areas set up by the borough’s fantastic restaurants. This weekly event, which kicks off on the first Wednesday in May and runs through the last Wednesday in September is Dining Under the Stars. This year, it’s heading into its 17th season, and over the past nearly two decades, the beloved series has become one of Delaware County’s marquee events. 

“We want people to think it’s magic — they show up on a Wednesday night at 6 p.m. and the street is closed and clean and dozens of restaurants have hundreds of seats available on the street,” says Dave Fairman, Executive Director of the Media Business Authority (MBA).

It takes a lot of behind the scenes work to create this magic for 22 weeks out of each year. Local law enforcement and emergency service workers, volunteers, SEPTA and local businesses all unite to close down five blocks in busy downtown Media. This includes making sure that all of the cars are removed from parking spots and that the trolley is stopping short of the designated area.

“Safety is a priority for us and our guests,” Fairman notes. “This well-choreographed activity is a collaborative effort with the MBA staff, board members, volunteers and the Borough police department.” 

The closed-down section of State Street also means that folks can leisurely stroll, chat with neighbors and soak up the convivial atmosphere. Guests can engage in a bunch of different ways: simply stop by to catch the weekly live music performances, bring the kids to enjoy the vibes, pop into one of Media’s bakeries or ice cream shops to enjoy a sweet treat, browse the boutiques, or make a restaurant reservation and go in for the full experience. 

Each Dining Under the Stars Wednesdays brings a notable influx of people into downtown Media, which benefits the participating restaurants, as well as the many independently-owned retail businesses in the vicinity. 

“That’s our job: to bring people to town,and to support our businesses, nearly all of which are independent and family-owned,” Fairman says. “Media’s restaurants are the mainstay of our downtown, so highlighting them all summer long is great for the entire State Street district.”

Rocco Mangelli is the owner of Ariano Restaurant, which has been participating in Dining Under the Stars since 2011. This charming trattoria, which specializes in Italian dishes and thin-crust pizza, is situated just off State Street on Olive Street; the side street also closes down between Baker and State for the weekly event. Mangelli enjoys the bustle of the nights, which he says are a community-wide happening.

“When you go down State Street, you see a sea of tables and chairs, and once that horn gets blown at 5 p.m., all the restaurants start the production of getting their outdoor spaces ready,” he says. “It’s just a really cool scene.”

The horn that Mangelli refers to is the official signal to the State Street district that the police have fully closed the street, and that it’s safe for the restaurants to begin their set-up. Mangelli is actually the person who has the honor of blowing the horn each Wednesday, after he receives the go-ahead from the chief of police.

Ariano typically sets out 100 extra seats in its temporary outdoor dining room, effectively doubling its capacity. And they need the extra seats — each of these Wednesday nights are Friday or Saturday-levels of business for the restaurant. And, just as importantly, the guests attending Dining Under the Stars aren’t just from Media; the event draws enthusiastic visitors from far and wide, helping to raise the profile of Ariano, its neighboring restaurants and the borough itself.

“The amount of volume is just insane, and you get people from Delaware, other towns in Delco, Philly and even South Jersey … getting new customers is always a good thing,” Mangelli says. “There aren’t many towns like Media with the downtown, the historical feel, and a great restaurant scene, and it’s great that all these people can discover that.”

Dining Under the Stars commences in 2024 on Wednesday, May 1. The official time of the event is 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., though individual restaurants may hold different hours. Reservations are strongly suggested! Check out the list of participating restaurants here; contact specific restaurants for more info and to make reservations. 

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Want to know more about everything Delco? We’re more than just your source for good eats — we’re your source for where to stay, what to do and more in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We’re Visit Delco, PA, and we’ve got you covered from Philly to the Brandywine. Find us at 1501 N. Providence Rd., Media, PA, 19063; (610) 565-3679 or online.

Emily Kovach


All photos courtesy of Visit Delco PA