SAN JOSE (KPIX) — After complaints over patrol officers closing late-night restaurants, San Jose has agreed to allow some downtown restaurants to serve customers on city streets until midnight.
This follows a kerfuffle over the weekend in which police shut several restaurants down in the middle of service, saying the businesses were violating their permit to serve past 10 p.m.
“It was definitely a surprise to all of us,” said Rachel Kaiser, General Manager of District.
The officers were correct on the letter of the law, but restaurants in the Al Fresco program had been operating in what they considered a harmless gray area.
“Some of us on the block got closed down a little earlier than we did. But we definitely were not expecting law enforcement to come here in the middle of our service and surprise us like that,” Kaiser said.
By Monday, restaurants were complaining to City Hall saying their survival is at stake.
“Many are teetering on the brink here, some may call it quits,” said Nate LeBlanc of the San Jose Downtown Association. “Anything the local government can do to help them survive. It sounds a little harsh, but I think we are talking about the businesses survival when we talk about these things.”
By Tuesday, City Hall was relenting. Service on closed off streets or parklets will now be allowed to stay open until midnight. Others on private property and sidewalks will be addressed by the city council next week.
“When there is a hiccup in the system and when businesses are not able to fulfil their outdoor operations to the fullest, we want to make it clear that we will try, if we can, to alleviate any barriers,” said San Jose Spokeswoman Elisabeth Handler.
But, as always, the marketplace will decide whether staying open for late night eats will be worth it.
“As long as they stay with the regulations they’ve been having, as long as people are wearing masks, and as long as it’s still safe, it should just be like normal business hours,” said diner Milo DeFrisco.
The Al Fresco program is scheduled to end on December 1. Restaurants are working with the city to come up with plans to extend it through winter.