An IHOP restaurant along Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena. Photo by Jose Tobar.

L.A. Dining Kicked to the Curb: “Our Customers Are Loving It”

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Date night during the coronavirus pandemic means eating outside the restaurant and, in some cases, in the parking lot.

Now that Gov. Gavin Newsom has invoked the ban hammer on indoor dining for a little while, there are some silver linings.

First of all, diners can now eat outside, where many of us always wanted to be anyway.

In fact, due to the mandate, you now have to eat outside unless you are ordering to-go. It doesn’t matter if you want Moons Over My Hammy®’s at Denny’s or an XXXL Triple Kingburger at Fatburger, as the man said at the record store when you bought that Coldplay box set: Take it outside.

Photographer Jose Tobar journeyed from Pasadena to Silver Lake to Koreatown to show us how a variety of restaurants are adjusting and moving their dining rooms to adjacent streets, sidewalks and parking lots.

Pasadena closed two lanes of traffic on Colorado Boulevard, making this urban visage your romantic view when dining outside.
“We only recently started offering outdoor dining,” said Germán Granja Rodriguez, co-owner of Sabores Oaxaqueños Restaurant on 8th Street in Koreatown. “We only found out about the [Al Fresco program] because we noticed a sign posted up in the bar next door. But now we’re doing our best to adapt, and with the limited options we have, it’s the only possibility for us to get ahead.”
Partial street closures in Atwater Village allow struggling restaurants and cafes along Glendale Boulevard a chance to serve guests and remain in business.
Sticky Rice in Echo Park has tables set up outside for sidewalk dining.
“Customers are responding,” said John Kang, chef and owner at the Koreatown restaurant Chef Kang Sul Box. “But, of course, we’re following all safety measures, like taking customers’ names and numbers down, taking their temperature and keeping our tables 6 feet apart.”
Patrons partake in outdoor dining at California Grill in East Hollywood. Prior to opening up its doors for alfresco-style dining last week, the restaurant had been open for takeout and delivery service only.
“Our customers are loving it,” said Tricia LaBelle, owner of Bon Vivant Market & Cafe in Atwater Village. “The city provided all of the barricades, the planters and the umbrellas. … It was like winning the lotto, I was very grateful.”
A waiter wearing a face shield runs from the street into the restaurant after serving patrons on Colorado Boulevard.
A waiter in Pasadena performs a temperature check on guests before he takes their order. Pasadena began partial street closures along Colorado Boulevard for outdoor dining Friday.
A view of diners at Grand Central Market’s courtyard along Hill Street in downtown L.A.

Los Angeleno