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Santa Barbara Council addresses downtown restaurants on Take-out Tuesday

State Street recovery
Ryan Fish/KEYT
City leaders are discussing ideas like closing some downtown streets to cars and opening up streets and sidewalk space to restaurants and retailers.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- The city of Santa Barbara, like most of the country, has adopted Take-Out Tuesday. The day encourages people to order food and support local restaurants struggling during the COVID-19 health pandemic.

This Tuesday Santa Barbara's city council has a COVID-19 Business Advisory Task Force Recommendation To Assist Businesses item on their agenda. The purpose is to consider temporarily closing the street to enable restaurants to offer additional outdoor seating, while adhering to physical distancing guidelines.

Paul Garcia, who's a manager at Benchmark Eatery, said his restaurant prepared for customers. "We're ready. We're ready to serve people and, you know, spread a little fun and joy and good food."

Something is cooking in Downtown Santa Barbara. As Governor Gavin Newsom eases stay at home restrictions more restaurants have been firing up the grill.

Joey Somerville is a manager Joe's Cafe. He's excited to see guests returning the restaurant. "It's great. You don't realize how much you miss people until they're out of your life for awhile. And a lot of these people come in here every day. Some people three days a week, five days a week, and so six weeks away from them was a long time for both them and us I'm sure. And it's great to have them back."

Restaurants on State Street like Joe's Cafe, Benchmark Eatery and Oppi'z Bistro are open, just in time for Take-out Tuesday.

"Take-out Tuesday is a great promo to get behind," said Somerville. "You know, come on down and get food from restaurants down here. Stop by Joe's Cafe and we'll gladly take care of you."

From Take-out Tuesday to moving the restaurants across the sidewalk the Santa Barbara city council is working on how to make outdoor downtown dining a reality.

Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo said, "Our city transportation planners are looking at where dining can go the sidewalk, but still allow ADA access and passage and how to put it in the street and still include some traffic circulation."

"A game changer especially in these times," said Garcia. "Yeah, I think it's a great idea. State Street is a perfect place for it."

The city council plans to vote on a temporary outdoor dining ordinance on June 2nd. Restaurants can get a head start and apply for additional licenses from county Public Health and state Alcoholic Beverage Control.

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Scott Sheahen

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