If you’ve been to downtown Palm Springs recently, you’ve likely seen some restaurants expanding tables into the sidewalks and parking lots. A new proposal is on the table to expand restaurant dining into the streets down Palm Canyon and Arenas.
Palm Springs Mayor Geoff Kors said this decision could be made as early as next Thursday at the city council meeting which could be a big move for places like Chillbar that have already made adjustments to their business just to stay alive.
“We don’t see a lot of negatives,” owner of Chillbar, Rob Giesecke, said.
Chillbar is now selling food so the bar can stay open under state guidelines during the pandemic. They also added more outdoor seating in their parking lot and sidewalk.
Other places in California have already started shutting down streets to expand outdoor dining. Mill Street in Grass Valley, a little vacation town in northern California, implemented the change about 30 days ago.
“We’re calling it, ‘mill around downtown’.” Logan Greenwald, owner of Fable Coffee in Grass Valley, said. “It’s been feeling really good and everyone is feeling just a little bit safer.”
Arenas Road has been sectioned off for Pride celebrations and Halloween in the past. Giesecke said it can definitely be done but he wants to make sure the retail shops keep visibility.
“Being the only bar, restaurant that’s on Arenas, open, it feels a little bit lonely,” he said.
Over at El Patron, a table of out-of-town customers said Palm Canyon could also benefit from expanding into the streets even though tables can already be seen on some sidewalks and parking lots.
“It looks really closed down right now and people are looking for something that’s open,” Jennifer, a tourist from Hollister, said.
She said they had trouble finding somewhere to eat that was open.
“If they were to shutdown part of this street, these couple lanes out there, put tables out there, I think it’d be great,” Victor, another tourist at the table, said.
Safety, enforcement, visibility, cost and logistics have all been a part of consideration. K-rails are also a possibility to section off the streets.
Mayor Kors said the city wants to “stay ahead of the curve” so when the weather gets nice, plans will hopefully be solidified. He said it’s possible the adjustments could be made in September.