Street Food: Cities Turn Parking Spaces Into Dining Spots And No One Seems To Mind

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Danielle Renzulli, owner of 12 Steps Down Bar in Philadelphia, poses by the tables she has set up in what used to be parking spots. She was expecting some negative reactions from neighbors, given how valuable parking is in the area, but to her surprise, she received no complaints.

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At the 12 Steps Down Bar, two parking spaces are blocked off with wooden barriers, tall reeds and strings of lights.

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And the typical frustration over parking changes has simply not materialized.

«There’s been a lot of tolerance for things that are unusual,» said Mike Carroll, the city’s deputy managing director for transportation, infrastructure, and sustainability. «Residents have not complained in a big way about this.»


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The lack of outrage might be partly due to the lack of traffic. According to mapping company TomTom, Philadelphia’s streets are about half as congested as they were pre-pandemic.

«It would be a different story if people were moving their car more often and trying to find parking, and were fighting for those parking spots,» said Richard Shephard, as he sat in a converted parking spot at the South Philly restaurant Flannel. «But since they pretty much are stationary at this point in time, I don’t think people are too upset by it.»

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Customers sit and eat in a converted parking spot outside of Flannel, a restaurant in Philadelphia.

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Left: Owner and chef of Flannel, Marc Grika, stands by his restaurant. Right: Co-owner and chef of Pistolas Del Sur, Adan Trinidad, poses outside his restaurant. Having extra tables has helped keep business owners afloat during really tough times.

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But after she set up her tables, surrounded by a reed barrier and decorated with strings of lights, she hasn’t received a single complaint. «Actually, I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it,» she said.

«We all probably imagine the worst,» she added. «And it was not bad at all. «

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Customers eat outside at Sabrina’s Cafe in Philadelphia on Sept. 26, 2020.

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Customers eat outside at Sabrina’s Cafe in Philadelphia on Sept. 26, 2020.

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  • Outdoor Dining
  • parking
  • Philadelphia

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