Downtown restaurants just off Fifth Avenue say they need help too

5th Ave on-street dining crowds don't spill over
Posted at 4:50 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 21:38:28-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Restaurants up and down 5th Avenue in the Gaslamp District are gearing up for yet another three days of crowded on-street dining.

This upcoming weekend will see 24 eateries offering service on the asphalt, up from the original eight that participating during the launch on June 18.

But as they bask in the opportunity, restaurants on surrounding streets are asking - what about them?

"It's a ghost town, especially at night," said Patrizia Bronchi, who owns Operacaffe on Fourth Avenue. "I'm really scared to have to close the restaurant because it's not possible to go on like this."

Bronchi says revenue at Operacaffe is down more than 70 percent. She depends on crowds from the Balboa Theater across the street and visitors to hotels and conventions. All of that is nonexistent amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

Bronchi says she is happy that 5th Avenue restaurants are seeing the increased business, but that the crowds are not spilling over onto 4th Avenue.

Michael Trimble, who heads the Gaslamp Quarter Association, says the group cannot also close 4th and 6th Avenues due to traffic concerns.

However, he said the association wants to help with new marketing, decorative lighting and parklets - such as replacing some parking spaces with permanent outdoor dining areas.

"We really are trying to do what we can to support all of the merchants in the Gaslamp Quarter," he said.

On Thursday to Saturday, 5th Avenue will be closed from L to F streets to allow on-street dining. During the second weekend of July, the number of participating restaurants will expand to 27.