SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Dining on sidewalks is one thing, but in the street?
That's a new concept in Santa Barbara. In addition to using more of the space in front of businesses where it works, diners will also have some options to eat where cars used to park.
The zone, known as a parklet, is cordoned off and in some cases tables are just moved there.
In other areas, there's a designated base, fencing and landscaping.
It broadens the foot print of the restaurant, and also draws attention to the business.From a health perspective, it provides the necessary spacing during the COVID-19 concerns.
Savoy Cafe and Deli has moved out to Figueroa St. with its parklet dining, and Jeannine's Restaurant and Bakery has designed a cottage-style setting at its location on Coast Village Road.
"We did it Saturday night and it was is fantastic. We're really happy. We're trying it. It needs modifications. It needs tweaking," said Jeannine's owner Alison Hardey.
Parklet dining is different than what some businesses on State St. downtown are doing by simply extending into the street by several feet with specially marked areas.
This new dining experience has been encouraged by the city as a way to rebound from the economic meltdown since the pandemic hit in mid March.
At Jeannine's inside dining for now has been completely eliminated to give customers space at the counter and then move around gift racks for an exit or to pick up their order. Plexiglass separations also include stained glass as part of the decor.
"We did the calculation that all dining would be outside. That is why the parklets are critical," said Hardey.
Servers say the customers are noticing the setting has a different, comfortable cafe feel, "that is our goal number one and we are getting there ya know, " said Lalo Mendoza who greets customers daily at the register or over the bakery displays.
At Savoy, they are using a modified inside dining room, back patio and now the front street parklets.
Owner Kathy Shields says, "the city of Santa Barbara was amazing. the guidelines were clear, simple."
The design at their restaurant involves a raised platform that lines up even with the curb.
"We have an elderly population down the street and they can come up and not have a fear of any steps and sit and enjoy the sun," said Shields.
Umbrellas are coming along with more beautification ideas where the customers will sit. "We have these great trees that have been here forever and we are going to string some lights and have some ambiance out here."
Savoy now has seating inside, in a patio and a parklet.
None of the parklet rules were discussed with restaurant owners prior to a few days ago. The plan has moved quickly.
Cities including Berkeley are already doing the same concept.
"I am so proud of the city for helping supporting that movement, and being part of the solution, of what we are all facing," said Hardey.