San Jose

San Jose Could Open Up Outdoor Space to Restaurants, Other Businesses

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San Jose city leaders have come up with a plan that could allow restaurants and other businesses to expand beyond their own walls onto city sidewalks and parking spaces.

The so-called “Al Fresco” proposal would allow restaurants to use sidewalks, parking stalls and other public areas as outdoor dining spaces. The need for space is critical because when restaurants do reopen, they’ll likely lose half their indoor table space to meet mandatory social distancing requirements.

The health department does need to sign off on the proposal.

“It’s obviously important for all of us to get rolling on this work now, and that’s why we’re beginning with this initiative,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said. 

Jorge Sanchez, owner of Chacho’s restaurant in downtown San Jose, thinks the proposal is a great idea, especially with business looking bleak.

“Yesterday was a very difficult day for us,” Sanchez said. “From 11 to 7 p.m., we did $327.”

Right now, to comply with the county health order, Chacho’s is only serving to-go orders.

“We’ve got a lot of pain right now in the small business community and we need help,” Scott Knies with San Jose Downtown Association said.

Bay Area restaurants are still not allowed to serve customers at tables, but when that changes, San Mateo is considering shutting down some streets to give restaurants more seating options. Marianne Favro reports.

Leaders said they’ll have to work with federal officials to allow restaurants to sell liquor outdoors.

Other businesses besides restaurants could venture outdoors as well.

While details are ironed out, the plan provides a ray of hope for business owners wondering if they can survive the pandemic.

“That’s what we need from our city government,” Sanchez said. “We need them to help us get the ball rolling.”

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