SAN MATEO (KPIX) — You probably won’t mistake it for a quaint Italian piazza but, on Friday evening in San Mateo, with heaters blasting, lights shining and diners chatting, the so-called pandemic “new normal” felt a little more like just plain normal.

Mayor Eric Rodrigues told KPIX he wants outdoor dining in his city to be “where kids can run around, we don’t have to worry about cars and we’re really kind of making the public streets more accessible to pedestrians.”

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During the pandemic, 50 restaurants in downtown San Mateo have added 45 thousand square feet of outdoor dining space.

The question for city council is what a permanent setup might look like.

“We have things like where are the different parklets gonna go? Is it going to be for the entire year? We have drainage issues to consider,” Mayor Rodriguez said.

One option: expand outdoor dining from Memorial Day to Labor Day while the weather is good.

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Ling Pan owns Revolution hair studio just around the corner from B Street.

“I actually keep telling my clients, I wish the city would keep this all the time. I love it,” he said.

Diners say they’d keep coming back. “I think it’s a fantastic idea. In other countries they have al fresco dining and it’s interesting that this area does not have that and the idea that the pandemic has kind of created it is a great idea,” said Maxwell Keller of San Francisco.

That’s what Mayor Rodriguez hopes.

“There’s going to be very few silver linings to this pandemic but one of them could be that that was the year we finally got to do something that we’ve been wanting to do for a long time.”

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The city council will first discuss expanding outdoor dining to Sept. 30 and then work on a more permanent plan on Monday.