reopening the bay area

Palo Alto Businesses Reopen, Drawing Crowds

NBC Universal, Inc.

Hundreds of people flooded the Ikea store in East Palo Alto Saturday, even causing a traffic jam, as the store opened for the first weekend in more than three months.

The lines were so long it looked like customers were waiting for a ride at Disneyland, with some people waiting two hours just to get inside. Some customers drove more than 60 miles for the reopening.

“It feels good to get out but still, I am a little bit scared and nervous,” sad Tiana Anderson of Oakland. “But you know, it’s just great to be out and do some shopping.”

At one point, the parking garage filled up and there was even a backup on Highway 101 at the offramp for the store.

Customers are required to wear a mask and the restaurant is closed.

On Saturday night, California Avenue closed to cars to allow restaurants to put tables outside. The move lured dozens of diners to check out the new ambiance.

Alisha Caunday and her family appreciated the change of pace.

“We feel like we’re in another country,” Caunday said. “We hope they do this all the time.”

Palo Alto Mayor Adrian Fine also dined al fresco, and he said the street closure is paying off.

“This is just 100 parking spots, but there are well over 100 people out here tonight having dinner with their families,” he said. “This is reimagining what this corridor can be.”

Opening a new restaurant during a pandemic is not ideal. But the co-owner of Port of Peri Peri said the street closure helped.

“A lot of people want to come out and sit outside,” he said.

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