Since quarantine started in early March, restaurants have struggled because of the safety protocols that have called for and take-out and outdoor dining only.
But at the beginning of July, the city of La Verne closed D Street to car traffic and transformed the street and sidewalk into an outdoor dining plaza, which has helped keep restaurants afloat during this difficult time.
The evenings have been festive on D street, with seats, while obeying the social distancing protocols – mostly.
Six people are allowed to sit in each dining area, which is roped off in front of the participating restaurants on the sidewalk and street. Servers wear masks and once at their table the customers do not have to wear their masks.
It feels fairly safe as most people do follow the rules and the customers appreciate the opportunity to get out of the house and spend some time with their friends.
The restaurant workers also limit close contact with their customers.
Melissa Cook, a bar manager at House of Wings, said that the outdoor seating has been a benefit for the local restaurants.
“We first shut down completely doing to-go orders only and we took a big hit,” she said. “But the outdoor seating has brought a lot of our business back and it has had a huge impact for us.”
Leah Skinner, executive director of the La Verne Chamber of Commerce, said that the cooperative community of La Verne is what makes the outdoor seating possible.
“This community has really stepped up during this time and has been supportive of our local businesses, and it has been great for everyone” she said.
Some residents of La Verne are even petitioning for the city to permanently close D Street and repave it for foot traffic only.
Though not everyone is thrilled about that possibility.
Micky Rehm, owner of Micky’s Jewelry Studio, said that if the city is going to do this, they need to address the parking problem.
“The shutdown of the street … would not help all the businesses downtown unless there was a parking structure built,’ Rehm said.
Now that students and University employees are working remotely, patrons of local shops and restaurants can part in the University parking structure on D Street and Arrow Highway, but once students are faculty are back, the structure will be full.
For now, though, the makeshift outdoor plaza is good for community morale, said La Verne resident Zach Gibson.
“It gets everyone out and makes it feel more like a community,” Gibson said.
Jacob Barriga can be reached at email@example.com.