Retail

San Francisco Initiative Helps Eateries Extend Seating To Public Spaces

San Fransisco restaurant

San Francisco is making it easier for restaurants to reopen as the city’s mayor launched a plan to extend seating onto sidewalks, parking spaces and streets.

Eater San Francisco reported the city is offering bars and restaurants free, fast-tracked permits to use public spaces for takeout and eventually dining.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the initiative, dubbed “Shared Spaces,” will allow pickup services in spaces usually reserved for vehicles and pedestrians, including parks and plazas. Outdoor dining will be allowed in those spaces when dining rooms reopen.

“We know businesses in San Francisco have been hit hard, and since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been finding ways to support local retailers, restaurants, and other small businesses,” Breed said in a statement. “This new program is a creative solution that will give our businesses more space to operate safely, and shift some of our street and sidewalk space to protect the economic and physical health of our entire community.”

The news service reported San Francisco is not alone in making accommodations for eateries and pubs.

Forty-eight miles away in San Jose, the city council approved Al Fresco San Jose for public spaces to be used for restaurant use. The San Mateo City Council will consider a similar action on Wednesday (May 27). The Berkeley City Council is slated to vote on a measure next week that would close some city streets to create outdoor cafés, while Menlo Park and Mountain View are considering similar ideas, Eater San Francisco reported.

Earlier this month, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA), San Francisco’s restaurant trade group, issued a proposal to city hall for outdoor dining.

“Limits on indoor capacity translates to limits on revenue restaurants can expect to generate, which in turns lessens the likelihood of the restaurant surviving and decreases the amount of sales tax the city can collect,” the proposal said. “Cities across the world are opening up non-traditional spaces to allow restaurants to place their tables outdoors and still observe physical distancing rules and provide for ensuring safety for our employees and the public.”

The idea has the support of Hunter Hall, executive director of the Main Street Business Improvement Association. In an interview with PYMNTS, Hall said downtowns must adapt if they hope to continue as an active commercial base of restaurants and retailers.

He said extending outdoors may not save Main Streets, but it will help. Such moves will give restaurants and shops a chance to live to fight another day and come back stronger.

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