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San Francisco Restaurants Enter Coronavirus Era With Al Fresco Dining

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- On Friday, COVID-19 health restrictions in San Francisco were relaxed enough to allow outdoor dining at restaurants. Customers were lining in the city to learn what it takes to make al fresco dining work in the age of social distancing.

Outside of Cafe Trieste in North Beach, tables are on the street, the smallest glimpse of normalcy in the very social neighborhood since coronavirus restrictions began. Just up Grant Avenue, the owner of Tupelo and Belle Cora said the city and state's permitting processes for re-opening aren't clear or working.

"There's an additional fire permit. I went to the fire department today so I could put some heat lamps out in a new seating area, which I am supposed to be allowed to have. But they weren't accepting permits at the fire department," said restaurateur Teague Kernan.

At Cafe Envy in the Bayview, Mayor London Breed acknowledged the red tape owners had to cut through to re-open and told them not to worry if permits weren't issued.

"Use common sense, do your best and try to be patient with us and don't stress about what the city isn't doing. We're here to help you, we want you to succeed, so we're not going to come around with our pen and pad giving you citations over certain things. We're going to talk to you and work with you through this process," Breed said during a news conference.

At Zazie in Cole Valley, there's now a wait list to check in at the restaurant, along with more cleaning, masks and space between diners. Owner Jennifer Bennett is happy to usher out the era of takeout only.

"Nobody that does this does it with the wish of someday being a glorified McDonald's, just handing to go bags through a door. We want the whole experience, we want to take someone's rocky day at work and turn it into a nice calm send off into their evening," Bennett told KPIX 5

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