Restaurant Owners Pushing for Outside Dining

The Little Italy Association said if approved they would like to roll-out an 'Al Fresco' dining on Saturday evenings closing down parts of India Street and Kettner Boulevar

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As California begins to slowly open up businesses, ideas on how to welcome back guests into restaurant are on the table. One idea includes extending outdoor dining into sidewalks and parking spaces to give guests more room.

The California Restaurant Association said they are planning a "Slow Street Program" of their own in San Diego -- the city recently launched a program by the same name that shut down some already-slow neighborhood streets to make more room for pedestrians and cyclists.

The Restaurant Association's program hopes to shut down slow streets so that restaurants can take advantage of the space, pushing lines to the streets and moving tables onto sidewalks and into parking lots.

"That wouldn’t necessarily mean dining tables would be set up on the roadway, but would help to allow dining in parking spots and further onto a sidewalk," said Sharokina Shams, Vice President, Public Affairs of the California Restaurant Association.

A new strategy to close streets could help restaurants keep in-person dining afloat. NBC 7's Melissa Adan explains.

While state guidelines are asking eateries to maintain distancing between guests, that would limit the amount of people allowed inside.

"I'm definitely for closing down streets, I want to fry my chicken and serve it to you outside," said Charlie Boghosian, owner of Chicken Charlie's Table.

Bohjosian said he looks forward to the day when residents can safely return to dining at restaurants.

Melissa Adan
In Rancho Bernardo Chicken Charlie says he looks forward to the day when San Diego County residents can safely return to dining inside restaurants.

"I want to be able to bring back my employees, the more people I can feed the more employees I can bring in," he said.

The Little Italy Association (LIA) said they look forward to safely welcoming the community back to its restaurants when the time is right with Al Fresco dining.

"The concept would roll out on Saturday evenings from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. using India Street and parts of Kettner Boulevard which will be shut down to allow restaurants to serve out to the curb, based upon their current encroachment permits with the ABC and the City," said Marco LiMandri, the Chief Executive Administrator of The Little Italy Association of San Diego.

LiMandri said the streets will become the sidewalks to allow for patrons to lineup for restaurants while complying with county rules on physical distancing.

"We foresee Al Fresco dining potentially starting as early as June," said LiMandri. "All plans are pending statewide authority and the County Health Department’s approval followed by the City of San Diego’s endorsement of the encroachment."

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