Outdoor dining slowly coming to Pismo Beach after restaurant owners' push

Aug 12, 2020

A handful of Pismo Beach restaurants are now open for curbside dining downtown, after businesses urged the city to allow it. While some restaurant owners are rejoicing, others say they are stuck in limbo and red tape.

A section of former parking spaces on Cypress Street in downtown Pismo Beach is now a curbside dining location for Splash Cafe, something manager Derek Davis said customers desperately wanted.

“It feels a little more normal than just having to get your food and sit on a curb somewhere and eat on the streets,” Davis said.

On Pomeroy Avenue, Cool Cats Cafe now has a makeshift patio on a portion of the metered parking spots. Owner Sean Corpuel said it was not an easy road working with the city to get to this point.

“When we kind of got road blocked, the last time by the city, I asked them, ‘what do I need to do to make this happen?’ And they said, we need a comprehensive plan from Shell Beach to Oak Park,” Corpuel said.

Corpuel said he worked with several businesses to come up with a plan, which was ultimately accepted by the city council after weeks of negotiations.

Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce chairwoman Lisa Kruitbosch said there were a couple reasons for the delay in greenlighting curbside dining.

“One of them being a safety measure,” Kruitboash said. “Pismo Beach is very unique in the way we are set up. We are only seven miles long, and most of our streets are one-way streets.”

The other is the loss of parking spots in a city that has struggled for years with parking.

“Our parking meters are going to be paying for our new parking structure,” Kruitbosch said. “So the city was very concerned about losing money for the parking structure.”

But Kruitbosch said keeping businesses financially afloat is much more important than a loss of parking temporarily.

“We have to think about our businesses,” Kruitboasch said. “If these close down and we had nothing downtown, it would look ugly all boarded up.”

While some restaurants are serving curbside, the owners of others—like the Shell Beach Brewhouse—said they are stuck in a rigid permit process with the city and losing money daily from not having the curbside dining open during the last few weeks of summer tourism season.

“We have 45 [staff] members at the Brewhouse,” Brewhouse co-owner Frank Shiro said. “And we are coming to some really tough choices, of which one of these family members do we lay off first?”

Shiro said he is hoping to get through the permit process before it gets to that point.