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Part IV- San Francisco's Public Space During COVID-19: Curbside Cafe gets a curbside parklet

I walked into the aptly named, Curbside cafe, on a normal “summer” day in early August 2020. The restaurant had an eerie glow from the inside. Tables were stacked in a corner out of the way. I was able to steal a few moments with the French owner, Oliver Perrier, to speak to him about the brand new parklet. We spoke in the center of the restaurant surrounded by empty space, where typically tables and chairs would be ornately placed. In a thick French accent and a hint of eagerness in his voice Perrier started off by saying, “About two weeks ago we installed it, at the end of July”.

Perrier had just finished seating two middle-aged women in the outdoor seats beside the restaurant (not the parklet).

Hunter: “What was this process like for you? How did it go?”

Perrier: “I started applying in early June. The process with the city took 3 weeks and a half, its called shared spaces.”

Aha, jackpot.

Perrier continued to explain, he shopped around for contractors and found quotes as low as two thousand and as high as eight thousand dollars, depending on what he what kind of design he wanted.

Perrier admits, “It could be fancier, but I wanted something that had a ‘country parklet’, aesthetic.” His neighbors on Fillmore St, Harry's Bar, have what he called, “a castle. They have separated each table with the glass partition”.

Hunter: “Do you think you will do something like that with your structure?”

Perrier: “No, I’ll just add the plexiglass on the west-facing side, to block the wind. As you can see, my french flag on the parklet is blowing west, west, west.”

Hunter: “So, what do your guests think so far?”

Perrier: “People love it. Now we’re planning on ordering more heat lamps.”

For those of you reading in any other part of the country, this is a San Francisco summer for you.

Perrier: “You ask me if I’ll keep it? The City issued a permit until January 1, 2021,” Hunter: “Do you think you’ll keep it after the expiration date, should they allow, to have outdoor seating, permanently?”

Perrier: “I believe the virus won’t be resolved by the end of the year and that SF Shared Spaces program will extend it until June 2021.”

In an attempt to ask about the permanence of outdoor seating in the street culture I asked, “Do you think you’ll keep it even after June?”

Perrier: “Uh, until the rain comes. If the rain comes in the winter, we’re completely screwed. If we lose those seats we won’t be able to cover all the costs of the restaurant. San Francisco’s minimum wage, commercial lease, and we won’t survive.

Perrier paused realizing he had to get back to his guests. He offered me water one last time, and I then checked on the table.

The shared spaces platforms program has quite literally leveraged the restaurant seats and lifted an opportunity of continuity for both the restaurants and guests to enjoy the cafe. The curbside cafe replaced just a few parking spaces and will now be filled with abundant opportunities for the restaurant and the community. Enjoy the Curbside Cafe from the curb. An eclectic Parisian experience in San Francisco for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner to support, and enjoy the delicious, authentic, food at 2417 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94115.

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