The city of Sacramento is starting a new program looking to allow restaurants to utilize public or privately owned spaces for outdoor dining.
The county has not yet lifted its ban on in-person dining. But Councilmember Steve Hansen, who has been leading the “Farm-to-Fork Al Fresco” effort, said the intention was to give restaurants a way to expand socially-distanced dining options once the ban is lifted.
“We’re encouraging people as we get permission by the state and the county to resume a somewhat normal way of life to eat al fresco,” he said. “We’re going to be working with restaurants to provide them with some tools to work to allow for temporary expansions for creation of outside patios.”
He suggested parking lots or parking spaces, public sidewalks, and strip mall walkways as potential dining areas that could be permitted for restaurant use in the future.
The Midtown Business Association reports that over 125 restaurants in Midtown and downtown currently have existing patios that can be used. They’re hoping the new program can make it possible for these restaurants to expand their capacity, or for others to gain more outdoor space.
“One of the things that’ll be a challenge is making sure there’s enough space between their tables and making sure they have enough room to practice all the various health and safety items that will be coming out,” Emily Baime Michaels, director of the Midtown Association said.
“So we’re looking at ways to expand their dining, expand their sidewalks and public areas so their tables can have plenty of space between them and you can have that beautiful experience of dining outside in Midtown.”
Sean Derfield, owner of Der Biergarten in Midtown said he’s excited for the program to launch, as it could help his business expand their outdoor seating options. While his business operates mostly outdoors, he doesn't expect to get back to the 150 customers he used to be able to fit. The city’s program could allow him to seat around 40 people, however, if they were able to expand onto the sidewalk.
“I wouldn’t have thought to put a table outside, I would have thought it wouldn’t be allowed. So when they brought it up, I said ‘Oh, we can put an extra table out there, keep six more people happy?’” Derfield said. “I think it’s a great idea that they’re thinking of new ways on how we can get through this.”
Officials say they will be working with local business districts across the city to create applications businesses can fill out that would allow them to expand dining into public spaces.
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