City leaders, business groups announce plan for outdoor restaurant seating when county can reopen

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — City leaders and business groups say Sacramento restaurants will be able to expand outdoor seating once the county is given permission by the state to begin reopening.

Officials dubbed the program “Farm-to-Fork Al Fresco.”

Restaurants could move seating into the sidewalk, parking lots or into streets, Councilman Steve Hansen said. Hansen suggested some streets could temporarily close to allow for more seating, citing the weekly Midtown Farmer’s Market as a regular closure of L Street.

It may be a possibility in the future that streets themselves will be used for outdoor dining, but that would be at the discretion of the city and not something that a restaurant can apply for.

The idea came from Councilman Hansen and Congressman Ami Bera, D-Sacramento County.

“Just from understanding this virus, the transmission when you’re outdoors is a lot lower than it is when you’re in an indoor space,” Rep. Bera said.

Aziz Bellarbi-Salah owns Aioli Bodega Espanola, a restaurant that now includes a shopping mart to make some money until customers can physically eat there. He said he expects to have the city put up barriers between the drivable part of the street and the sidewalk so diners can use the sidewalk to eat.

“You have enough space here that it’s either one four-top or two two-tops and you can kind of do that,” Bellarbi-Salah explained while demonstrating where he would place tables.

While difficult to gauge the financial losses to restaurants downtown during the coronavirus pandemic, President and CEO of Visit Sacramento Mike Testa said he can use a different form of business to get at least some perspective across.

“Obviously, people who stay in hotels go to restaurants around that hotel,” he explained. “And last year in April, occupancy at hotels was around 84%. This April it’s at 17%.”

The city said more details will come on the outdoor dining plan, including the biggest question: when?

“If it’s a week, if it’s two weeks, even if it’s a little further — I hope not — that we are ready to go,” Mayor Steinberg said.

Mayor Steinberg said it is going to start in the central part of the city. He said if it works well there, It could be expanded to other parts of the city.

So far, 12 California counties have been given permission by the state to move further into stage two of reopening, which allows for restaurants to provide dine-in service with modifications.

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