Outdoor dining program may become permanent in effort to help LA's struggling restaurant industry

There might be a light at the end of the tunnel for some Los Angeles restaurants struggling to stay afloat.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- There might be a light at the end of the tunnel for some Los Angeles restaurants struggling to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers are looking at a motion to not only expand the city's outdoor dining program, but make it permanent.

City Councilman David Ryu introduced a motion creating a permanent version of the Al Fresco program, which allows restaurants to expand their outdoor dining onto sidewalks, parking lots and even on city streets.

He says the program has been a lifeline for businesses struggling to survive through the pandemic and says even when restaurants are allowed to return to indoor dining, having a choice will be vital.

"Restaurants in particular are already reimagining their space... Their real estate has shrunk almost by half, so they need more space to try to make ends meet," Ryu said.
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The L.A. County Brewers Guild, with nearly 100 members, is now working to convince county leaders to allow them to reopen for outdoor service.



Nearly 1,600 restaurants have signed up for the program, which speeds up the application and approval process and opens new possibilities.

For Little Dom's restaurant in Los Feliz, they're adding another 16 seats in two parking spots. The restaurant built a makeshift patio, creating as much ambience as they can as they face an uncertain future.

"Even when we can come back online to inside dining we don't know when people will feel comfortable being inside, so I think the opportunity to make that permanent would be huge for us," said Jessica Schmidt, the restaurant's general manager.

Meanwhile, craft breweries say their industry has been unfairly targeted. The L.A. County Brewers Guild, with nearly 100 members, is now working to convince county leaders to allow them to reopen for outdoor service if they line up outside food vendors, like food trucks.

Breweries, wineries and bars have otherwise been considered high-risk locations for the spread of COVID-19. The county public health department has not budged on the issue.

Breweries currently only have the option to serve beer to-go. The brewery guild says many of its members are hanging on by a thread.
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