SANTA BARBARA, Calif. —To support local businesses, Allen Construction is building parklets free of charge.
"We wanted to think about what can we do to give back and how can we really help the community,” Allen Construction chief financial officer Lindsay Helmick said.
Since late May, this ‘Locals Helping Locals’ program had received numerous nominations for businesses in need of help.
Eventually, Allen Construction selected seven local businesses to aid by implementing small renovation projects.
For many, this meant converting street parking into a sidewalk extension to allow space for new physical distancing guidelines.
At Restaurant Roy on Carrillo Street, chef-owner Roy Gandy was able to work with Allen Construction to design a unique parklet.
"I thought it would be a good layout and a good use of space,” Gandy said. “With one table in the middle, it gave us that six feet of social distancing."
“We built the platform and then built out the walls,” Helmick added. “This one is actually a little bit more in-depth with built-in benches and tables."
Over at The Press Room on East Ortega Street, longtime owner James Rafferty is thankful for the assistance.
“It means everything just to have an outside space because we've got to socially distance,” Rafferty said. “We wouldn't have opened up without an outside area and we're in business because we can open up outside."
"The businesses were shut down for a long period of time,” Helmick said. “This is how they're going to be able to be open and provide safe food and beverages to the community."
As these businesses begin reopening, the parklets are providing people with a safe way to distance themselves while enjoying an outdoor dinning experience.
"Well it's adding a unique element to Santa Barbara, we're like Europe all of a sudden,” Rafferty joked. “We're like a civilized country where you can drink outside."
With an eye towards the future in this new normal, both business owners hope that these parklets can become permanent fixtures.
"It's immense,” Rafferty said. “We already were a destination for tourists but it's just going to make it more popular."
"With the parklet being out here, it'll help people understand and know that the place is back open again for dine-in seating,” Gandy concluded. “That'll be a real big help."
This week, Allen Construction will begin building a parklet at Renaud’s Bakery in Montecito.