Little Italy debuted its al fresco dining experience Saturday allowing restaurants to serve more customers while spreading out diners amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Diners were happy to have dinner under the stars and restaurants were happy to serve more guests after months of resorting to takeout and delivery services.
About 20 restaurants extended their patios right onto India Street in downtown San Diego from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. It is the first community in the county to close an entire street to traffic to make more room for dining.
Street closures included India Street from W. Ash to W. Grape streets, and W. Date and W. Fir streets between Kettner Boulevard and Columbia Street, according to the Little Italy Association of San Diego.
"We were really waiting for this event," said Dario Gallo, owner of Civico 1845. "As soon as we set up, we had a lot of people trying to sit outside."
Gallo said his restaurant was operating at 95 percent capacity thanks to the added outdoor seating.
One couple said they live right down the street from Civico 1845 and were able to snag one of the first reservations.
"We know the hot spots and this is one of them," Chris Bernard said. "We had our temperatures taken. We had our masks on."
People were also happy to be back out supporting their favorite local restaurants.
"So many of those restaurants are tiny and the tables are usually packed so with the street shut down, it's a lot easier to spread the tables out and get more people in," Little Italy resident Kellie Shoten said.
The adapted dining experience may continue each weekend depending on the response to Saturday's al fresco experiment. The Little Italy Association said it hopes to soon expand the program to include 15 additional restaurants.
A Facebook event appears to show another al fresco dining experience on Saturday, June 20.
Check the association's website for the latest restaurant events.