New push for restaurants to set up in the street

Posted at 5:36 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 20:43:16-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Siamo Napoli restaurant in the heart of North Park was just hitting its stride when the coronavirus took over.

"There is an enemy but you don't see it," said Flavio Piromallo, who opened the Italian eatery in November.

Piromallo's restaurant is now takeout only, with sales off 70% to 85% depending on the day of the week. Now, even as the state moves toward allowing restaurants to have guests again, he worries it won't be enough given physical distancing. He says even at 50% capacity, surviving may not be possible.

On Tuesday, however, the North Park Main Street Association will pitch a plan that could help restaurants such as Piromallo's survive. The Association wants to close 30th Street from University Avenue to Polk Avenue to vehicle traffic from Thursdays to Sundays, 10 a.m. To 10 p.m. so restaurants can set up on the asphalt, in front of their space.

"In order to make it feasible for them to turn on their lights, open their doors, hire their chef, hire their bartenders, have their cleaning services there, they need to be able to increase their capacity," said Angela Landsberg, the association's executive director.

The plan would require reservations, tables six feet apart, no more than five people per table, a 90-minute limit, face coverings for staff, table sanitation between parties, no mingling with other tables, no pets, and recommend disposable, electronic, or chalkboard menus.

Meanwhile, the City of San Diego is investigating an emergency ordinance that could pave the way for restaurants to expand into the public space, on a limited basis.

"The alternative would help facilitate the opening and safe operations of the local restaurant industry during the COVID-19 pandemic while abiding with all other social distancing, food safety, cleaning and sanitizing, employee health monitoring and personal hygiene requirements," the city said in a statement.

Piromallo, from Italy's Amalfi coast, says the change could be similar to places in Europe, where eating outside is often the norm.

The North Park Community Planning Group is scheduled to hear the proposal at its meeting Tuesday.