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Orange closes Glassell Street in Old Towne Orange to make room for outdoor dining

Old Towne Orange looks a little different this week, with outdoor tables, patio umbrellas and grassy carpet greeting diners and shoppers on Glassell Street where cars streamed by just days ago.

The city blocked Glassell from Maple Avenue to Almond Avenue off to vehicles starting Wednesday, July 8, to create more opportunities for outdoor dining and shopping. Cars can still travel through the traffic circle using Chapman Avenue, although parking spaces in the Orange Plaza’s southwest quadrant were cordoned off for the restaurants there to also create outdoor dining areas.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom shut down indoor dining last week for Orange County and several other counties in the state, as the rise in coronavirus cases sharpens. Orange is following other cities in Orange County such as Fullerton and Laguna Beach who have opened up outdoor space for dining.

Glassell will be closed through July 31, although the City Council could choose to extend the Orange Plaza Paseo program.

“It’s something we need to try and help our businesses out, and we’ll do everything we can to make it successful and evaluate it within a month,” City Manager Rick Otto told the council at its July 2 meeting when it voted to close Glassell.

Restaurants need to fill out a one-page form for a temporary outdoor dining permit and meet a few other simple requirements to extend their operations out onto the street, city spokesman Paul Sitkoff said.

Wil Dee has two businesses – Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar and Provisions Deli & Bottle Shop – using Glassell Street for outdoor dining. He saw an uptick in business on Wednesday, he said.

Dee said he has about 20 outdoor tables at Haven, compared to 34 he would normally have indoors. Spreading the tables to account for social distancing remains a challenge, he said. But he’s hopeful about the potential benefit of outdoor dining for his businesses.

“It’s promising,” he said. “Talking with a few businesses, you are definitely seeing some uptick, where people feel more comfortable.”

City officials had discussed closing the entire plaza to vehicle traffic, but worried it could impede the city’s public safety response, Sitkoff said.

But several on-street parking spaces on Chapman Avenue and Orange Street have been blocked off for dining, Sitkoff said. Outdoor dining is also allowed in private walkways and parking lots in the city, he said.


Source: Orange County Register

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