All the Parklets, None of the Beer

Martin Macks and Magnolia gave us streetside tables to eat and drink. But then they had to take away the beer.

What happened?

Well, there seems to be some confusion on everyone's part.

First, we asked the city what happened. One representative of San Francisco's Pavement to Parks program (the agency who issues licenses for parklets) said, in an email, "No alcohol is allowed on parklets at any time. It's not about a ban going into effect: parklets are considered real public spaces (although maintained and managed by their sponsors) and as such no alcohol is allowed. Every public space in the city from parks to plazas to sidewalks follows this rule as you might know already."

Then we got another response, also from Pavement to Parks. Apparently licenses for serving liquor and beer are issued by the state of California's Alcohol Beverage Control board, and parklets are considered additional spaces that need to be licensed separately from the restaurants that applied and paid for them. Only one early parklet has received an ABC license so far--Mojo, on Divisadero.

Dave McLean, owner of Magnolia, said that parklets were so new to the city that the licensing procedures for ABC approval hadn't evolved yet.

This is tricky for Martin Macks and Magnolia, both of which have invested several thousands of dollars in leasing parklet space, paying for an application and building the actual parklet.

For Magnolia, he said, the removal of beer service to outside tables (which were obtained under a "tables and chairs" permit from the city, which is different from a parklet permit) was due to a delay in the ABC approval for the additional, outdoor space. He said that ideally the permitting would be in place to start serving beer outside again in October, and that he'd like to get it done "as soon as humanly possible."

As for Martin Macks, it remains unclear how licensing would work for the parklet, or if and when they'll be serving pints outdoors again.