Ready for the new normal? San Francisco outdoor dining reopens Friday

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's reopening date for outdoor dining just got moved up, right in time for the weekend.

"We would put a two-top here, a two-top here, as long as they're six feet apart," said chef and owner of Canela Bistro and Wine Bar, in the Castro, Mat Schuster.

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Mayor London Breed's office said health indicators are good, so she surprised San Francisco's restaurant industry Tuesday by announcing that permitted restaurants could open for outdoor dining on Friday, June 12th, instead of Monday, June 15th, as previously announced.

"We went into a little bit of a scramble to start getting everything ready," said Schuster, who on Tuesday was mapping out where to place tables on the sidewalk in front of his restaurant for Friday's outdoor dining reopening.

"We are right on Market Street, so we are being mindful of getting too close into Market Street, but it really allows us to double our capacity for the outside seating."

Businesses will be able to apply for the City's Shared Spaces Program to use a portion of the public right-of-way, such as sidewalks, parking lanes, streets, or other nearby public spaces like parks and plazas for restaurant pick-up and outdoor dining.

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"This is a huge lift. This is a City where we normally slug through the permit process... this was a way that everyone said for the greater good we're going to push things through," said Laurie Thomas, a San Francisco restaurant owner and executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

Thomas says she doesn't think many restaurants will be ready to open outdoor dining by Friday, but is encouraged that the City moved up the date for those restaurants who are ready to take advantage of the weekend crowd.

"I don't want anybody to be disappointed, but I would think that most people that are planning to open for outside dining component will be ready to go probably Monday. But people certainly should call their favorite places and check."

Thomas says the extended outdoor dining spaces could exist beyond the pandemic.

"These are permits that are through the end of December now, so if this works, if we have a great experience, we can discuss what it looks like going beyond that."

So, bring on the heat lamps, San Francisco could be dining al fresco into the future.

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