At the start of the pandemic, many businesses turned to using parklets or expanded outdoor dining as ways to survive and offer customers a place to eat when COVID-19 restrictions prohibited people to dine indoors.
Now, in Grover Beach, the city has approved for the use for restaurants’ outdoor operations through June 2022.
“If a business needs to add that space and make it more permanent, then they should be able to do it,” said co-owner of Spoon Trade Brooke Town.
Last summer, the city of Grover Beach first issued 22 temporary use permits for outdoor operation space. And Grover Beach restaurant owners reflected on some concerns they had at first.
“It was a little hard and people were apprehensive sitting so close to the traffic,” said owner of Darwish Jamal Afalzi.
“The expense of it was a big thing for sure during a very uncertain time financially, but in the long-run it ended up paying off,” said Town.
At Spoon Trade in Grover Beach, owners invested in a permanent patio for outdoor dining due to the pandemic. The restaurant also received help from the city of Grover Beach through a $5,000 grant used to fund the construction of the outdoor dining space.
“It is nice to have those extra 20 seats to help with those busy times,” said Town.
With outdoor dining using up sidewalks and parking lots, some residents were apprehensive about the lack of parking spaces and the safety of street parklets being right next to high traffic streets.
But Mayor of Grover Beach, Jeff Lee, says there are minimal parking impacts and they’ve established protective barriers.
“The opportunity to have outdoor seating is more than made up by pedestrian friendly access in front of the restaurants with only real minimal parking impacts,” said Mayor Lee.
Local restaurant owners say, with continued use of the outdoor space, they’re planning on having live music or even happy hours.
By June 2022, the city of Grover Beach will reevaluate whether the use of outdoor dining in parking lots and sidewalks will be permitted.