SF restaurants take advantage of loophole in COVID guidelines

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – “We have no servers. We have no bussers. People are voluntarily waiting for their food in the parklets,” John Duggan said.

After his family’s restaurant, Original Joe’s, caught some heat on Wednesday for allowing customers to eat their take-out orders in its parklet, John Duggan is now speaking out.

“We’re not encouraging people to dine outside. At the same time, we’re never going to stop being hospitable and gracious to the customers we desperately need at this time to keep our lights on to survive and to keep our people employed,” Duggan said. 

Unlike other restaurants nearby, Original Joe’s left its tables, seats, and heat lamps out for customers. 

Several people were seen waiting for their orders with a drink on Thursday but as it got later, more people sat down to eat.

“If they’re not gonna sit, they have to stand. You have to wait for your food in some capacity so it doesn’t make sense to me we have our customers waiting in the cold,” Duggan said. 

Across the street at Tony’s Pizza, some customers were also seen eating in the restaurant’s parklet, even though there are no chairs or tables.

“It’s not like crowded here. There’s no tables to sit. We’re not going to stay for long. People are just eating briefly,” customer Charles Vidrine said.

A common sight at other restaurants as people drink their coffee, wait for food or just hang out.

Over at Buena Vista Cafe in Fisherman’s Wharf – it’s a similar situation.

Employees tell KRON4 no one is being served food or drinks outside, but they’re also not chasing away customers who decide to sit down.

“They’re only staying a little longer to eat compared to they’d probably walk down the street and find a bench anyways. Not really much of a difference. At least these are properly spaced out compared to a bench,” Vidrine said.

While restaurants are technically following city guidelines by only offering take-out, some customers and restaurants are taking advantage of this loophole of what is and what isn’t allowed.

Until city guidelines change, many of these restaurants say they’ll continue to be hospitable to their customers by offering a place to wait.

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