PLACERVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) – The Sacramento City Council is expected to extend outdoor dining permits for another year, even though post-pandemic indoor dining is once again allowed, but not all cities – such as Placerville – are following suit.
“You walk by and you say, ‘Oh, this place looks cute, let’s try this,'” said Loren Reis, who enjoyed her outdoor lunch with friends at Cascada Mexican Restaurant Tuesday.
Temporary outdoor dining facilities were a lifesaver for restaurants when indoor dining was restricted.
“It’s helped us out tremendously. It’s been a real plus,” Cascada owner Jason Rodriguez said.
But city officials in Placerville are letting the temporary permits lapse and outdoor venues located on the street must be removed now that most state pandemic restrictions are lifted.
“A lot of people support us and they say keep it but the city council, city of Placerville, decided we need to wrap it up by this Friday,” Rodriguez explained.
Placerville city officials told FOX40 one of their biggest concerns was safety and liability, saying customers are just a few inches away from an accident in any outdoor dining facility.
“It took me three months and a lot of money to build it,” said Kaitlyn Keyt, owner of the Enchanted Forest restaurant which has themed outdoor booths with video fireplaces and electronic rivers embedded into its tables.
Keyt is fighting the removals with a petition and said that Governor Newsom and El Dorado County favor an extension of outdoor dining.
“It brings a lot of people down into downtown. They dine and shop so it helps the merchants and it’s just brought a lot of life to downtown,” she told FOX40.
Keyt said she will have to lay off employees if her booths are removed.
The city’s other concern is that the venues are often haphazard in their design, which they say detracts from the historic look of the street, but said there is a possibility of bringing them back if design rules are met.
“If they can make it a more uniform look with all the different types, it would just blend in with everything,” Reis said.
“I hope that they can keep it. I hope they change their minds and keep it because it’s nice to have that choice as well,” said diner Kelly Cox.
Keyt is hoping compromises can be made, including having restaurants paying for their spots on the street so the city can help downtown businesses recover from hard times.
In the meantime, several restaurants have taken their outdoor facilities down, and more are planning to by the end of the week.