More Valley cities make way for restaurants to seat customers outdoors

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Visalia and Clovis created a new permit process for restaurants to have more seating

VISALIA, Calif. (KGPE) — More Central Valley cities are helping their restaurants expand seating outdoors, so they can still serve customers who want to sit down for a meal.

It’s still not getting as many customers to restaurants, however, restaurant owners are happy to be serving any food at all.

The latest city to do this is in Visalia, where city leaders passed an emergency regulation creating a temporary conditional use permit for restaurants.

Fugazzi’s in Downtown Visalia is one of the first restaurants in the city to get one.

The restaurant has moved some of its tables outside on the sidewalk. To get the permit, Fugazzi’s had to apply.

“It’s not simply allowed. We have to make sure the environment is appropriate,” said Randy Groom, Visalia city manager said. “They have to have the room to do it. They need the have the proper equipment to do it.”

Some of the things restaurants need to show are socially distanced tables and have at least four feet of space for people to be able to walk by.

The permit allows restaurants to access not only to sidewalks but up to two parking spaces in front of the building for take-out orders.

While it’s intended to last through the current closure for indoor dining, Groom said it’s possible this regulation to be amended.

Last week, Clovis created a similar process for restaurants. Also by application, restaurants can now add seating to sidewalks and even parking spaces.

In Fresno, spokesman Mark Standriff said all restaurants are allowed to use common areas, like parking lots, for outdoor seating. All restaurants need is permission from the property owner.

This is through an ordinance city leaders passed in May.

Libelula in Downtown Fresno just set up their six tables outdoor seating area on Tuesday.

One of the owners, Ian Cookson, said he’s just happy he still gets to see and serve  customers.

​”I do this more for than making money. I do this for the people and being around the people — seeing people happy when they eat the food. It’s hard to do that when it’s all takeout,” Cookson said.

Again, to have seating outside in Visalia or Clovis, you need to apply. In Clovis, you apply through the Economic Development Department, while in Visalia, you apply through the Community Development Department.

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