11 May Jon Cartu Reviews: San Jose leaders push for outdoor dining to revive restaura…
Civic leaders in San Jose want to allow restaurants to use sidewalks, streets, parking lots and other outside spaces to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.
The “Al Fresco San Jose” proposal will go before the Rules and Open Government Committee meeting on Wednesday. If approved, it will be scheduled for a full city council vote in about two weeks.
“The list of challenges that restaurants are facing is monumental,” said Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association. “It’s kind of any port in the storm right now. If we can expand out and keep the tables and spaces clean and establish this trust with our customers again, it’s going to be very helpful.”
The ideas under consideration include closing roads to cars, setting up outside tables and service, and taking advantage of relaxed rules set out by California’s Department of Alcohol Beverage Control that could allow restaurants to sell booze outside and patrons to walk around with the drinks.
Among its 1,609 downtown retailers, Knies says only about 9% remain open for to-go or delivery service.
San Jose is far from alone. In San Francisco, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association is looking to allow dining rooms to spill outside. San Mateo is considering closing B Street and 25th Avenue to vehicles in an effort to create enough social distancing for dining outdoors, according to the San Mateo Daily Journal.
Most restaurants across the state remain closed to sit-down diners. Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to issue guidelines for the industry Tuesday, which might lay out how restaurants can reopen. The guidelines could include temperature checks for employees, hand-washing schedules and face mask requirements.
“It’s an economic calamity,” Knies said adding: “It’s so fluid, and everybody is moving fast. Our small businesses are hurting, and we just need some good information and hope.”
At a news conference Friday, San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo said: “We just want to be ready. We want to have the rules in place, very clearly. We want to ensure there’s a clear pathway for small businesses. We know they don’t have a lot of money to be spending on fees. They don’t have time to be spending with lobbyists and consultants. They just want to know what are the clear rules and how can they do it.
“So, we need to ensure we’re working hard to make it as easy as possible when the light turns green.”