SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -The extended patio seating in the Gaslamp Quarter is here to stay for now, according to the Gaslamp Quarter Association.
Thanks to a special events permit, as long as social distancing is required, restaurants will overflow into the streets with patio dining Thursday through Saturday each weekend through the end of the year.
Manager at The Field Phil Nestor was thrilled to see how busy it was Saturday, saying the patios made a "100%, a million times over," difference to recuperating after being shut down during the pandemic.
He said people feel more comfortable sitting outside, and diners said they enjoyed the atmosphere.
"I think it's actually a pretty good idea, it reminds me of my time in Europe so I think it's pretty cool," Luis Morales said.
Fifth Avenue shut down between G and L Streets Thursday through Saturday to make way for the patios, and was slow to start.
"I think the first day everyone was finding their feet I guess, they were seeing how many tables they could put in their area," Nestor said.
By Saturday nearly a dozen restaurants expanded into the streets.
Morales said they enjoyed themselves, "we came out to get together with the boys and just finally get a sense of normalcy."
Right now normalcy comes with hand sanitizing stations at each table and masks while you're waiting to be seated.
"I always take my precautions," one diner said. The man said he came down from Los Angeles to celebrate his birthday and felt safer in San Diego compared to up north where Orange County reduced their mask policy to "strongly recommended."
Last weekend images of crowds not social distancing, or wearing masks in the Gaslamp Quarter garnered harsh words from County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. He said earlier this week targeted enforcement would ensure this doesn't happen again.
Nestor said the weight falls on restaurants to enforce the county's policies, "we're responsible for our patio and the surrounding areas and making sure people are in the line wearing masks and they're social distancing."
"You can't just run into the street and tell someone to do something but you're doing your best and I think most people whether they're drunk or not, I think taking responsibility for themselves too which is a good thing to see," he said.
He and other businesses are hopeful as long as the patio dining is successful and they keep everyone healthy this could become a more permanent fixture.
"I hope it becomes a permanent thing, a lot of the restaurants do," Nestor said, hopeful business will continue to climb, helping them recover from the pandemic.