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'Al Fresco' dining program here to stay for Sacramento

A program that sparked necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming a permanent staple in the community.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a permanent “Al Fresco” dining program for the city.

"This program applies the best practices learned during the pandemic to a permanent program," Councilmember Katie Valenzuela said in a tweet. "I’m proud of the work our City team has put into this incredible program to support our local businesses!"

When dining rooms were forced to close at the start of the pandemic, these impromptu outdoor dining spaces that extended into sidewalks and streets were the answer to help restaurants like Binchoyaki stay afloat.

Now, the owner of Binchoyaki is looking forward to keeping his investment. Chef Craig Takehara said the prospect of ending the program weighed heavy on him. 

"We have put so much into this. We have had to do so much. It’s nice that we can get a quick second to breathe - the fact that we actually get to continue to keep doing this. It’s huge,” he said.

Takehara had taken out about $100,000 in loans to build out a comfortable outdoor space for customers of his small Japanese restaurant downtown. It's a move that helped him keep the grill on after losing 75% of his business.

According to a city of Sacramento City Council Report, local restaurant owners can visit the Al Fresco Dining Program webpage starting July 1, 2022 to select a patio layout, customize their patio design and submit an Initial Interest Form. Once the business talks with the City to finalize their application and gets it approved, they will be issued a revocable permit.

From the report, business owners will have their choice of three patio options:

  • Tier One Patio: Two tables and up to 8 chairs 
  • Tier Two Patio: Enclosed patio on sidewalk and/or parkway
  • Tier Three Patio: Enclosed patio in parking space

Read the full city council report here.

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