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Jeune et Jolie
Carlsbad restaurant Jeune et Jolie is one of several restaurants and retail businesses to use the city’s new temporary program to allow for expanded capacity using public sidewalks and private parking lots to mitigate capacity losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Kylie Sebree
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Carlsbad gets creative with public spaces for business

CARLSBAD — An increase of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County has led to the closure for some sectors of the economy such as bars, wineries and breweries.

However, restaurants are still open and in Carlsbad, expanding their footprint outside to recapture the lost indoor space and seating capacity. The city, in coordination with the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and Carlsbad Village Association, has been aggressive in its search for creative solutions, according to David Graham, Carlsbad’s chief innovation officer.

Those include allowing businesses to expand onto public sidewalks and private parking lots to mitigate the loss of indoor seating due to state and county health orders. It’s a temporary program until the health orders are lifted, Graham said.

“The Community Development Department and myself were tasked with ways of being able to activate public space,” Graham said. “Fortunately, the city already had on the books regulations for … curbside cafés. We had regulations we could look at and use.”

One of the first to take advantage of the new city policy and fast-tracked permitting process was John Resnick, owner of the popular five-star French restaurant Jeune et Jolie. He said he has a solid relationship with the city and when w the idea came to move to an outdoor-only setting, he dialed up the planning department.

He then spoke to a city councilmember and then was connected to Graham, who proceeded to work to make it happen. Resnick received the permit the week before the restaurant re-opened, even though he had already spent the money to transform the patio.

And since they move guests outside, Resnick coined the concept “Starry Night.” The restaurant re-opened on June 22.

“The decision to move Jeune outside was a fairly easy one,” Resnick said via email. “Without much airflow into the restaurant from the outdoors due to the nature of our space, I simply did not feel comfortable seating guests inside the restaurant. Everything I’ve read says that fresh air and the outdoors is much safer and much more difficult for the virus to spread. So we knew right away outdoors would be the name of the game for us.”

Graham, meanwhile, said the city has been agile during the past three months and working diligently with the business community on best practices to safely open and staying open. Those include social distancing guidelines, wearing facemasks into retail stores to further prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Numerous businesses have completed the process, which started on June 9.

“We were able to find ways they were able to expand outdoors or private areas they already had,” Graham added. “We think allowing for the activation of these spaces is exactly the sort of thing that reduces the transmission (of COVID-19) if people are following public health orders.”

Businesses interested in the private parking lot option can get the details on the city’s website and fill out the application.