A recent survey of 1,600 small business owners in San Francisco found that 80% of them want to continue operating outdoors and 90% said these shared outdoor spaces have kept them from closing permanently. The survey is being conducted by the city of San Francisco.
Far East Café in San Francisco’s Chinatown has benefited from the temporary curbside dining structure that they are allowed to put up only on weekends. Now they are asking the city for a grant to build a more permanent one so they can operate outside seven days a week.
“Recently the weather and everything, it brings up a lot of business to come back to Chinatown,” expressed Bill Lee, Owner of Far East Cafe.
The city is putting up $1.6 million in grant funds to help businesses like his build those outdoor shared spaces.
Local nonprofits are helping small businesses apply for these grants.
“With the Shared Spaces opportunity and now that the city is offering us a grant which allows a lot of restaurants here, hey, we can expand our business outside,” said Doug Mei of the nonprofit BeChinatown.
The grants range from $2,000 to $5,000. Lily Lo, is a local community advocate.
“Any amount helps because any amount helps small businesses because all the small businesses are struggling,” added Lo.
Far East café has been in Chinatown for 100 years. They want to remain open.
Besides Chinatown, the city will focus on other neighborhoods in need, such as Central Market, the Bay View, the Excelsior, Lower Fillmore, Lower Haight and the Tenderloin.
All projects are approved by the Shared Spaces Program which has strict guidelines for both its curbside and sidewalk structures.
“Visibility and designing your installation so that people can see in and out and depending on the situation, we also specify traffic control devices and other kinds of signage to help especially those who are driving,” said Robin Abad Ocubillo, director of the San Francisco Shared Spaces Program.
The grants are expected to help 340 establishments. The program is called SF Shines for Reopening and small businesses can apply for the grant at this page.