Restaurants in Brentwood are once again thriving despite the COVID pandemic. The city has taken extraordinary steps to help them take their operations outdoors.
MJ’s Cafe and Bakery in downtown Brentwood is as busy as ever. The pandemic hasn’t slowed them down, thanks to action by the city allowing them to expand their outdoor seating.
“During this pandemic I can’t even imagine what it would be like without this many tables,” said Gabrielle Manci. “We’ve been really lucky to have this outdoor seating.”
But the city is taking it even further. Serving up cash grants to restaurants across town to help them create and add new outdoor eating spaces. The city has earmarked $75,000 for the citywide grant program
“The grants are $5,000. They can use it for tables, chairs, umbrellas or shade coverings, planters. Whatever they need to create that ambience and create a place people want to come to,” said Brentwood City Councilmember Karen Rarey.
She said it’s made a big difference. Just a few months ago she said downtown was desolate.
“With this grant program we’re able to bring back business, bring back the feeling of our town,” Rarey said. “A little bit of normalcy.”
Something businesses were so desperate for.
“That helps. Every little bit helps us especially right now because we’re working on a very slim margin,” said Peter Chiaritou from Sweeney’s Grill and Bar. “One, two, three tables helps tremendously.”
Diners say it’s nice to be able to have plenty of options to eat out again.
“The fact they can offer this is huge, it's a huge benefit to us,” said diner Daniel Ornelas.
The city is offering the grants on a first come first serve basis. They’re hoping to recoup some of the money through the state’s coronavirus relief act.