Tenderloin's car-free outdoor dining program to launch next week

Tenderloin's car-free outdoor dining program to launch next week
The 600-700 blocks of Larkin Street will be part of the Tenderloin's Outdoor Dining program. | Images: Tenderloin Merchants Association
By Carrie Sisto - Published on September 18, 2020.

After four months of planning, Tenderloin restaurants will be able to offer outdoor dining on two stretches of closed-off street starting next Thursday, September 24.

The closures come after months of advocacy from the Tenderloin Merchants Association (TMA) and Tenderloin Community Benefit District (TLCBD). While the San Francisco's Shared Spaces program was first launched in May, the Tenderloin was one of the last dense commercial corridors in San Francisco to get the go-ahead to close some blocks to cars.

The closures will occur Thursday through Sunday, on a two-block stretch of Larkin Street (between Eddy and O’Farrell) and the 300 block of Golden Gate Avenue (between Hyde and Larkin). Hours for dining will be noon to 7 p.m., with an additional two hours for set-up and take-down time (11 a.m. - noon and 7 - 8 p.m.)

Rene Colorado, the TMA's executive director, says the closures are set to occur weekly through December 20. Each of the 13 participating restaurants has received more than $3,000 in grants from TLCBD and TMA, covering three outdoor patio heaters, four outdoor dining tables, and twelve chairs per business.

The closures will require security to ensure diners' safety, so the two organizations will hire stewards from the Community Youth Center. They'll monitor the barricades and enforce social distancing and mask-wearing requirements, with pay of $18 per hour.

Funding for those programs comes from the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, which provided $60,000; delivery app Postmates, which gave $15,000; and UC Hastings, which is offering in-kind support near its Golden Gate Avenue campus.

The Larkin Street closure spans the 600-700 blocks, with nine restaurants and one retail store planned to participate.

Here are the participating restaurants and retailers:

600-700 Larkin Street

  • Lapats Thai Noodles
  • Larkin Restaurant
  • Lers Ros Thai
  • Pho 2000
  • Rainbow Market and Deli
  • Sweet Glory
  • Tender Curry and Co.
  • Turtle Tower
  • Quickly
  • Vacation 

300 block of Golden Gate Avenue

  • Golden Era Vegan Restaurant
  • Jin Mi BBQ and Tofu
  • Pinche Poke
  • Taqueria Castillito
The 300 block of Golden Gate, between Larkin and Hyde, will have four restaurants participating.

In addition to the brick-and-mortar restaurants, culinary incubator La Cocina will have stations for five of its restaurateurs at Hyde and Golden Gate, near the site of its future women-led marketplace and food hall.

According to La Cocina’s website, the marketplace at 101 Hyde St. is expected to be complete by the end of the month. Originally set to open mid-year, it was delayed by a six-week pause in construction under the spring shelter-in-place order. No official opening date has been set.

At the moment, vintage shop Vacation is the only non-food retailer participating in the event. It will host its annual $10 and $20 sale on the event's first Saturday, September 26, and hopes to launch a weekly flea market with other Bay Area vintage stores.

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🌞MAJOR NEWS!! 🌞We are working on a weekly outdoor Vintage set up, and SATURDAY SEPT 26th we are kicking it off with our $10 & $20 sale!! The @tl_merchants have worked so hard to secure 3 blocks of Larkin for safe, OUTDOORS! dining and shopping. We’ll have over 10 racks being constantly reloaded with major bargains! Our buds👯‍♀️ @knownbadboy and @soakyrobinson will be bringing some heavy hitters to sell with us! OUTSIDE! There’s extra security on Larkin for the event, and all of the restaurants will have set ups so you you can have amazing food while you’re out here! If all goes well we hope to have a weekly flea with Bay Area Vintage folks!! SAVE THE DATE! Don’t miss this one!! ❤️❤️

A post shared by V a c a t i o n SF (@vacationsf) on

The outdoor dining closures come after months of continuous advocacy from locals. With the neighborhood's few green spaces closed, many Tenderloin residents were confined to small apartments in the first four months of shelter-in-place. Hazardous sidewalks were crowded with tents and open-air drug dealers.

In late July, the SFMTA agreed to reduce traffic lanes on four blocks of Jones Street, to create the Tenderloin’s first approved Slow Streets area.

Last month, the agency authorized a one-block closure of Turk Street between Jones and Leavenworth on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to create a "Play Streets" area for kids. Hazardous air quality forced organizers to postpone for the first two Saturdays, but if the air is healthy, the event should finally launch this Saturday, September 19, and continue for another four weeks.

District 6, home to the Tenderloin and SoMa, is getting other Shared Spaces as well. Permits have been approved for street closures on Stevenson Street between Sixth and Seventh streets, Folsom Street between Sixth and Eighth streets and Grove Street between Larkin and Polk streets.

Jones Street (between O'Farrell and Turk streets) was the first Tenderloin street to have traffic lanes reduced, offering residents more open space for walking and biking. | Photo: Carrie Sisto/Hoodline

The TMA plans to hold a press conference celebrating the Shared Spaces program next Thursday, September 24. District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, whose office worked directly with the organizers to support the effort, will be in attendance.