Thanks to the City of Long Beach’s Open Streets Initiative, many Downtown dining establishments are now offering the al fresco experience for the first time. After the Initiative was implemented in early July, the City provided k-rail traffic barriers to restaurants and bars all over Long Beach – including 19 in Downtown – where businesses could build parklets, enabling them to operate under existing health and safety regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Patrons have quickly developed a liking for the new outdoor spaces, and local restaurants are seizing this opportunity to create a new twist on their ambiance.
“People are moving forward with caution, so they’re happy to have an expanded outdoor space where they can get a sense of life coming back to normal,” said Angela Mesna, who owns District Wine, the wine bar and eatery on the ground floor of the Lafayette Building in Downtown’s East Village. District Wine has had a parklet out front for five years and recently doubled their outdoor space with a new one.
Like other establishments with new parklets, District Wine is using the traffic barriers as an opportunity to feature uplifting creations by local artists. In a collaboration with Amy Stock of the Kennedy Grace Gallery and the Lafayette Homeowners Association, Mesna reached out to local artist Lajon Miller, who painted a loving tribute to Long Beach on the parklet’s exterior, using Polaroid snapshots as a motif. “In the wake of the civil unrest at the end of May, we wanted to put up something that expressed everything good about Long Beach,” Mesna said. Mesna and Stock are now considering adding another mural on District Wine’s new barrier.
The parklets are approved through at least the end of October. In the meantime, Downtown diners can enjoy their favorite spots – and Long Beach’s mild, Mediterranean climate – in a fresh, new way.