Diners in Southern California, especially Long Beach, enjoy a new kind of outdoor dining called a "parklet," a self-enclosed outdoor space. Hetty Chang reports for NBC4 from Long Beach on Thursday, May 2, 2013.
Southern Californians are discovering a new type of outdoor dining at some Long Beach restaurants.
Lola's Mexican Cuisine on Fourth Street located in an area known as "Retro Row" is one of three restaurants maximizing outdoor dining opportunities through an urban design concept called a parklet -- sidewalk dining with tables and chairs set up in a self-enclosed space built right on the street in front of the restaurant.
"The sun's out and people are out, it's popping out there," said Luis Navarro, owner of Lola's. "People enjoying a glass of wine, some lunch."
Navarro said he was approached by the city to consider building a parklet for his restaurant more than a year ago. The concept, which is widely popular in San Francisco and Europe, is still fairly new to Southern California.
"When we looked at it, it seems a little risky," he said. "It was new, but we thought it was something that would be different."
Navarro spent $26,000 to get the parklet built and said he is very pleased with his return on investment.
"We looked at the increase in revenue," he said. "We've gone up about 20 percent since we implemented the parklet."
At least 10 other Long Beach business owners who are considering parklets for their restaurants have approached the city within the past year, said David Roseman, city traffic engineer for Long Beach.
The parklets have boosted business for the restaurants and according to the restaurant owners, have also improved the sense of community in their neighborhoods.
"I love the idea," said Kerstin Kansteiner, owner of Berlin Bistro. "I was born in Europe and we had tons of outdoor dining there. It really adds to the neighborhood.”