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Little Italy and Kearny Mesa Expanding Outdoor Dining Program

Get ready for more streetside dining

Little Italy Association

With restaurants now limited to outdoor dining, expect to see a massive uptick in pop-up patios, sidewalk cafes, and parking lot transformations in San Diego County and beyond. To help local eateries cope with the new restrictions, Mayor Kevin Faulconer recently signed an executive order that allows restaurants to add more outdoor seating capacity without needing proper permitting as neighborhoods continue to create streetside dining hubs.

Street-side dining programs are currently underway in Encinitas, El Cajon, and the Gaslamp while communities such as Poway, Hillcrest, North Park, and La Jolla are working to enable eateries to expand outdoors.

Little Italy, which was the first to launch with its Al Fresco dining event on June 13, has been shutting down a stretch of India Street every Saturday since, giving over curbsides to participating restaurants and providing a 30-foot promenade for visitors. The Little Italy Association, which had added hand sanitization stations throughout the area, is extending the program starting this weekend; going forward, Al Fresco will start on Fridays at 2 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays and noon. Following county guidelines, restaurants must abide by the new 10 p.m. curfew.

And in Kearny Mesa, where most restaurants are set within strip malls instead of directly street-side, a bustling Convoy Street plaza’s shared parking lot has now been closed to traffic, with eateries such as RakiRaki Ramen, Tofu House, and O’Brien’s Pub setting up pop-up patios in front of their storefronts. Other spots in the plaza, including Crab Hut and Tapioca Express, remain open for takeout.