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City says restaurants are required to have permit to expand seating outside

Posted at 5:19 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 20:36:33-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Several local restaurants continue to adjust their establishments back to dine out services only, this coming after the Governor pushed back guidelines for Kern County and 18 other California counties. 23ABC spoke to businesses about how they are adapting and gained further details about the permit requirements.

Many restaurant owners said it was an overnight transition for many of the businesses in Downtown Bakersfield and that they are doing everything they can to keep their business competitive, comfortable and in compliance.

“The situation right now is very difficult on us to be able to operate,” Broken Yolk Owner, Jim Bailey said after the sudden announcement Governor Gavin Newsom shared on Wednesday, "We are now requiring they close their indoor operations due to the spread of the virus."

Restaurateurs were finally starting to welcome diners back inside after months of being closed, but now there has been another set back on plans.

Bailey told 23ABC News that now with the indoor services suspended for three weeks, his business is taking an even bigger hit, “We’re used to being able to sit about 300 people especially on the weekends and being limited to only our patio we can’t serve really about a third of that.” However, Bailey said due to the social distancing restrictions he also had to cut down his seating even more than that and his business model is not primarily set up for the new amount of to go’s.

However, for other businesses like Tina Marie's Cafe in Downtown Bakersfield who don’t have significant patio space, they had to apply for a special event permit so they could legally expand their business to areas beyond their original business footprint, "My whole sidewalk which is from Chester and 20th side and I’m using just towards the alley,”Owner of Tina Marie's Cafe, Tina Brown said.

The City of Bakersfield said businesses are required to get the special event permit before setting up any outdoor seating or retail areas. There are also measures the businesses are required to follow before they can use any previously unauthorized space like parking lots sidewalk or streets in Downtown.

Brown said coupled with her insurance, the outdoor permit cost her a little over $300 and took almost a month to get, “Its totally worth it, it’s our business you know, what option do I really have.”

According to Brown, sales are still down by almost 50 percent most days and after the first wave of closures she had to cut staff. However, she said she is hoping she won’t have to do that again and that her customer loyalty will help her business survive the second wave, “I have a lot of loyal and dedicated customers.”

If you would like to apply for the special events permit click here.