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City Gives $25,000 to Restaurants for Curbside Dining Areas



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Patio dining is coming to five downtown Fresno restaurants and breweries, with owners hoping the new seating option can help pull them out of the hole created by the COVID-19 shutdown.

The strong possibility that Fresno County businesses will fall back into the state’s most restrictive COVID tier next week makes the timing even more urgent.

Restaurants that reopened their dining rooms two weeks ago — though limited to 25% capacity — could find themselves limited to outdoor service once again after the state releases updated COVID metrics on Tuesday.

I’m losing. I need help,” Michael Smith, owner of Kocky’s Bar and Grill said in recalling a conversation with Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias.

Parklets were the solution.

Kocky’s Getting Back in the Action

Smith said he’s lost 90% of his business because of the pandemic, closing down for six months.

Because of the pandemic, many downtown employees worked from home, cutting down Smith’s business.

Standing in front of a new parklet —  a patio that extends beyond the sidewalk and into the street — Smith hopes the new outdoor dining area can help turn his business around.

“This is great for us. It’s something we’ve thought about, dreamt about, but never had. To see them all along downtown, it makes people a little bit more comfortable going and visiting restaurants,” Smith said. “This parklet is gonna help us revive that.”

Smith said people are realizing he’s open thanks to the parklet that is nearly complete at his restaurant located at 1231 Van Ness.

The parklet runs 32 feet by 8 feet. It is large enough for four tables or about 15 customers.

Kocky’s Bar and Grill owner Michael Smith overlooks construction of a parklet in front of his downtown Fresno restaurant (GV Wire/David Taub)

Five Entities Benefit

The latest $125,000 in grants expands on the parklet program that started in the Tower District. The money comes from the city’s share of federal CARES Act stimulus funding.

“We continue the efforts of putting as much money that we get from the federal government for relief of the pandemic directly out to the street with homeowners, renters, small businesses — because really it’s your money,” Arias said. “We’re trying to give it back to you as best as we can and make sure that as many of us get through this pandemic in the strongest position possible.”

Other downtown establishments receiving $25,000 parklet grants include Modernist Mixology, Zack’s Brewing Company, Fulton Street Coffee Roasters and Tioga Sequoia Brewery.

Parklets Transforming Businesses

Po Tsai, co-owner of Modernist Mixology, says the parklets will provide long-term benefits.

“The support they’re providing goes so much further. It goes into the winter, into the spring; and those adjustments are even larger as we look at seasons, because I think everyone’s kind of entrenching for the next six to nine months. And that’s what we have to do as businesses,” Tsai said.

Gail Zack, of Zack’s Brewing Company, says the CARES Act funds will help expand their outdoor facilities. Her restaurant has been limited to offering to-go orders because of the pandemic.

“It’s been a really, really hard time — challenging,” Zack said. “It’s going to look very gardeny, very outdoorsy. It’s definitely going to help with our capacity with getting people back in there.”

Downtown businesses have been resilient, Zack said.

“We all have to adapt and kind of change our our way of thinking and our way of doing things. But I know that we are strong, especially in the downtown community,” Zack said.

“We all stick together. We all look out for each other. We all help each other.”

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email