Holiday weekends typically bring in more business and now some restaurants in downtown Palm Springs have more space to accommodate.
Restaurants along Palm Canyon Drive between Tahquitz Canyon Way and Baristo Road can now expand outdoor dining onto the street with an approved permit from the city. That stretch of road will be closed to traffic for the foreseeable future.
The closure is part of Palm Springs' new “al fresco” dining plan city council passed on August 20.
City officials hope this will help businesses that have been struggling due to the pandemic.
“Everybody works together to make it a most successful place to be and in these trying times, the more we can all work together to make it happen, and that’s exactly what happened. We have a very forward-thinking city council,” said Jerry Keller, owner of LULU's California Bistro on Palm Canyon Drive.
LULU’s is one of the restaurants taking the city up on this plan. LULU's wanted to setup a nice patio that matches the aesthetic of the restaurant because they say the dining expansion is going to last at least through the end of the year.
Customers were taking notice Friday. Even in the heat of the day, there were plenty of people out for lunch.
“Anything they can do to help local businesses is wonderful. I felt so bad for so many businesses that are going out of business because of the pandemic. It’s a shame,” said Ann Montgomery, a customer at LULU's.
Montgomery lives in La Quinta, but she says coming to downtown Palm Springs is almost like a vacation. When she heard restaurants were able to expand seating on Palm Canyon Drive, she wanted to come out to show support.
“I do feel bad that the weather’s going to be so hot, so I’m afraid that’s going to keep people away, but we’re kind of used to that,” she said.
Despite the weather, LULU’s marketing director Joe Enos says he’s expecting and hoping for a large volume of customers throughout the weekend.
“It gives us almost double the amount of outdoor seating we had before, and so, this upcoming Labor Day weekend, we’re going to be able to entertain almost twice the number of guests at socially distanced tables, overlooking the beautiful mountains here in downtown Palm Springs,” Enos said.
Enos says he’s grateful for the opportunity that the city has given businesses through the “al fresco” outdoor dining pilot program. In addition to LULU’s, Patron is utilizing the street to expand its outdoor seating.
“We believe this weekend we’re only one of two restaurants that will be doing this, but we really are hopeful, as people see the fun, the energy and the business that this attracts, more people will take advantage of the opportunity,” Enos said.
“And hopefully, more like the old days, when you’d come up here and it was hustle and bustle and people were coming from all over. I hope we can see that again,” Montgomery said.
According to the city, as of Friday, seven restaurants have been approved to use the street for dining this weekend. There are a total of 17 restaurants approved for expanded outdoor dining. Ten of those restaurants will be expanding further onto the sidewalk.