Pismo Beach restaurants can now begin serving customers outside in parklets as a way to serve more customers while abiding by the state's COVID-19 restrictions.
Cool Cat Cafe on Pomeroy Avenue will be one of the firsts to offer curbside dining, a transition that comes as yet the latest twist in a series of crazy turns.
"The last few months have definitely been trying and exhausting because we were closed, then open, then they closed us again," Cool Cat Cafe Manager Zack Corpuel said. "So just trying to find some normality in it all."
It's not exactly normal, but in response to the governor's order prohibiting in-door dining, Cool Cat Cafe customers will soon be ordering burgers and milkshakes from their table in the street.
Through the new program, which was approved Wednesday, Cool Cat Cafe will add about 10 to 12 outside tables.
"Right now our seating is probably about a third of what it would usually be," Zack Corpuel said. "The summer months are obviously the biggest months for all the businesses in the area so for us to be suffering at 30 percent in the time of year that usually makes up about half our sales have been really rough on us."
"It's better to have outdoor seating than have all our restaurants board of and close because they can't survive during this pandemic," Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Lisa Kruitbosch said.
Cool Cat Cafe Owner Sean Corpuel has been spearheading the initiative to make these parklets a reality.
"We were relentless in continuing to make sure the city understands these are unprecedented times and nothing should be off the table," Sean Corpuel said.
The Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce, along with the City Council, approved the parklets but the program comes with a cost. About 40 parking spaces will be removed in a city battling parking shortages for years.
Concerns over lost parking and safety concerns delayed the transition to parklets.
"Our downtown is only 7 miles long and we're only a football field wide, with most of our streets being one-way streets," Kruitbosch said. "So all of that posed a safety issue."
Now, restaurants looking to add seating can pony up funds for barriers and lighting to serve customers outside.
For Cool Cat Cafe, the 10 to 12 more tables it can add outside represents an increase of seating to about three-quarters of usual. The additional seating should help bring down the average wait time, Zach Corpuel said, which is currently over an hour.
"We have to think about our businesses, not just the businesses but all the employees that work for those businesses," Kroitbosch said.
Cool cat cafe expects to have the parklet seating through at least October.
Area barbershops will also be allowed to participate in this curbside service.