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Business Owners Divided on Outdoor Parklets in Palo Alto

The parklets that many business built to accommodate outdoor dining during the pandemic are now causing controversy.

The street patios in front of several restaurants across the region are a lifeline for some business owners, but soon there will be limits put in place in Palo Alto.

Rickey Fleming of Osteria Restaurant in downtown Palo Alto said there’s no telling what would have happened to the business without the parklets.

Nancy Coupal, owner of Coupa Cafe, agrees.

“They were total adrenaline. I mean, they totally helped us get through COVID,” she said.

The parklet is so popular at Coupa Cafe that it extends out in front of the business next door, and there lies the controversy.

Merchants have been complaining that is what’s hurting their business.

Therefore, beginning next June, business owners like Coupal will need permission from next-door merchants if their parklets extend out in front of their stores.

Coupal said her neighbor already said no, so she’ll have to scale back her parklet.

“Outdoor dining is here to stay,” Coupal said. “Any progressive city has it, and Palo Alto starts requiring this … we are going to fall behind our neighboring cities.”

Other cities, such as San Jose, have closed off streets permanently to allow outdoor dining.

NBC Bay Area reached out to Cafe Coupa’s neighbor, but have not received a response.

Forest Spa Boutique is another neighboring business, and owner Bianca Dejong said she was hesitant of parklets at first. However, her opinion changed when she noticed the increased foot traffic coming into her store.

“It actually happened to turn out basically good because people are sitting out there in the street and they see your business,” Dejong said. “It’s different when people drive by in a car and it’s a split second that they see your store.”

Source: NBC Bay Area

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