PALO ALTO (CBS SF) — On a sunny Sunday evening, Palo Alto’s University Ave. was crowded with local residents taking advantage of the city’s decision to shutdown the main street to allow al fresco dining.
Business was brisk at Local Union 271, a farm-to-table restaurant.
“I love it, I hope they keep it, I think it’s great to be sitting outside, and enjoying the fresh air and seeing everybody walking by,” said Deborah Taylor of Palo Alto.
As part of the Summer Streets program, Palo Alto officials closed University from Cowper to High Streets to car traffic to allow for more outdoor dining and support retailers.
But not everyone is pleased with the closure.
“I think the city was admirable in their idea to do it, I think it was a good idea for people to walk around but they have to realize that helping some, and hurting others might be kind of a risky take on their part,” said Megan Kawkab, Owner of The Patio.
Kawkab said business dropped up to 20 percent at her Emerson St. restaurant and bar after the University Ave. closure.
“The sides streets have – they have relied on the fact that there is traffic coming down the central street on University Ave. and without that they’ve suffered,” said Jennifer Newell of Palo Alto.
The parklet at the famed Palo Alto Creamery on Emerson was empty. Same deal at Reposado Mexican eatery on nearly Hamilton Ave. Both owned by Rob Fischer.
“We were just starting to get some traction on the side streets with opening up the outdoors and they go ahead and shut down University Avenue and our sales just plummeted, and it’s been very difficult,” Fischer said.
Fischer also built the extension into the street at his own expense for $35,000. He’s now circulating a petition to re-open University, and plans to present it to the City Council.
“We need them to listen to the business owners, if they don’t listen to us and we all start going out of business because of this, what’s the town going to be like?” he said. “What’s Palo Alto look like without restaurants?”