With new regulations, street striping, diagonal parking, barricades and scores of umbrellas, Pasadena ushered in a new era this weekend by rolling out partial street closures to accommodate expanded outdoor dining.
At least nine restaurants in Old Pasadena and five in the Playhouse District will open new dining areas on sidewalks, streets and alleys this weekend. Visitors will see new configurations on Colorado between Madison Ave to El Molino Ave (north and south curb; on Colorado between Fair Oaks Ave to Raymond Ave (south curb only); and on Union Street west of Raymond Ave (north side).
Though the city had considered such a move for at least a month, the process moved at high speed this past week, as California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered restaurants to stop indoor dining amidst a dramatic rise in Coronavirus infections, state-wide.
As Jack Huang, owner of Sorriso Ristorante and Bar, ix Tapa Cantina and Bar Celona, explained Friday, “We were told (by the city) that ‘If you folks get your application for this temporary on-street dining in, the city will waive the fee and expedite this process and get your tables out there by the weekend.’ Everything worked at warp speed. This is the first time I’ve seen the city acting as fast as they have.”
Huang and his crew have also been working swiftly to prepare for the weekend.
“It’s going to be very hot this weekend,” he noted. “So we have some big umbrellas. We have plenty of tables and chairs. That’s not an issue, because our restaurant is a pretty good size. So we just have to do a lot of moving the tables. We already have the sidewalk dining. So we just have to bring out additional tables from the back dining room into the street.”
Restaurateurs in Old Pasadena and elsewhere in Pasadena seemed thrilled at the prospect of seeing new and returning customers again.
“I’m extremely grateful that we are allowed to be open,” said Gale Kohl, of Gale’s restaurant, who opened up a large tent for outdoor dining in her parking lot last week.
“I don’t know what we would have done,” she said Friday. “I would have possibly had to close my doors because we had nowhere to go.”
Ebullient, Kohl greeted customers during the lunch hour, and told Pasadena Now, smiling, “We have been overbooked for a while now.”
“Our beloved and renowned restaurants and bars will now have an opportunity to flourish,” said former Robin’s BBQ owner Robin Salzer in a Facebook post, “and the City of Pasadena, the Department of Transportation and the Old Pasadena Management District will shine brightly from their success. This is a big win for everyone.”
Pasadena Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Paul Little was excited about the idea Friday and encouraged the city to do more, saying, “I think it’s terrific that they’re doing this. There are at least probably a dozen other street segments in Pasadena that would benefit — and benefit yesterday, rather than tomorrow.”
The city moved swiftly to create new rules and permitting processes, said Pasadena spokesperson Lisa Derderian.
“We will have multiple departments monitoring their respective roles and responsibilities over the weekend,” she said. “The restaurants will self regulate based on tables and chairs available, and strict health protocol is in place.”
On Thursday and Friday, City and Metro workers repainted street lines, converted parallel parking to diagonal parking in some areas, and even moved bus stops, to accommodate the new arrangement.
The first of several partial street closures will go into effect Saturday, July 11.
These new dining areas in Old Pasadena and the Playhouse District were due to officially open at 10 a.m. Saturday:
• On Colorado between Madison Ave to El Molino Ave (north and south curb)
• On Colorado between Fair Oaks Ave to Raymond Ave (south curb only)
• Union Street west of Raymond Ave (north side)
The City said it will continue to work on advancing plans for additional on-street dining opportunities and was anticipating the following partial street closures to be in place by July 25th, if not sooner:
- Colorado between El Molino Ave to Oak Knoll Ave
- Colorado between Oak Knoll Ave to Hudson Ave (south curb only)
- Green St between Pasadena Ave to De Lacey Ave (north curb/half block)
- Green St between De Lacey Ave to Raymond Ave (south curb)
- Colorado Blvd between Fair Oaks Ave to Raymond Ave (north curb)
- Colorado Blvd between Raymond Ave to Arroyo Pkwy (north curb/no parking)