Al Fresco Could Be All the Rage as Outdoor Dining Expands in LA County

Some restaurants in Montrose and Echo Park now include physical barriers for guests to create spaces for outdoor dining.

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Driving down Honolulu Avenue in Montrose is like driving down Main Street USA. The tree-lined street is home to many mom and pop shops and a place where residents come together for community events.

For many Montrose residents, June 26 was big. It featured eating at a restaurant for the first time since the pandemic began. The experience included physical barriers, which are being used to create new outdoor dining areas on city streets, sidewalks, and private parking lots. It’s all part of the Al Fresco Glendale program, designed to help struggling restaurants increase their seating capacity.

There’s usually a fee for restaurants to have outdoor dining, but the city of Glendale is waiving those fees until August 31 or until restaurants are able to return to 100% occupancy. That’s welcome news for  Sergio Castillo, the manager of Black Cow Cafe, a Montrose staple since 1992.

“We’re glad to see everybody’s come back and we have extra space for the business, for the people, for the community,” Castillo said.

Outdoor seating has also expanded at Lady Byrd Cafe In Echo Park, where the parking lot was transformed into a garden setting, complete with greenhouses which isolate customers from one another. 

Misty Mansouri owns Lady Byrd and opened her new restaurant a few weeks ago, but the greenhouses were not part of the original design. COVID-19 forced her and everyone else to rethink their business plans.

“When we found out [Mayor] Garcetti allowed us to expand to parking lots and sidewalks, we wanted to jump on that opportunity,” she said. “The world is so uncertain. We don’t know day to day what’s happening and all I can do as a restaurateur and entrepreneur is staying committed and always giving my guests the best experience.”

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