SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — While some people might not think of San Francisco Tenderloin’s District as a foodie destination, city leaders and local business owners are working to change that amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Larkin Street is closing between O’Farrell and Eddy to traffic on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays. This allows merchants and restaurants to set up in the street, hoping to attract diners.

Outdoor Dining on Larkin Street in San Francisco

(CBS)

Simon Bertrang is Executive Director Tenderloin Community Association.

“We have a wide range of really good restaurants. I think that, people who are into food know that the Tenderloin is a destination for good food,” Bertrang said.

As of Thursday afternoon, only a handful of shops had set up in the street.

“We want people to show up. We’re anxious about this, and so I hope you come out and eat,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district covers the Tenderloin.

While Haney was being interviewed by KPIX 5, a woman complained about the decision to close the street directly to the supervisor.

“You guys didn’t think about us as essential workers. I think it’s very unfair,” said the woman, who did not want her name used on air.

The woman said she works at a nearby shelter in place facility for the homeless. Employees are upset that their street parking is going away.

“These two main streets for the two SIP sites are located, that’s housing these homeless and drug addicted people, and mental health people, to keep COVID from spreading in this area. We’re responsible for keeping them there. We’re the workers. We’re the essential workers. We drive. We park our cars here,” she said.

To be sure, attracting folks for dining in the Tenderloin will be a challenge. To help keep everyone safe, folks recently released from prison are hired to walk the street and address issues as needed,

Lek Potharan owns Tender Thai Restaurant. He says the city is trying hard to help make this work.

“It’s clean now today. It’s been kinda, you know, proper. We can walk, no poop on the street and no needles. That’s what I feel,” Potharan said.

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