Wineries, breweries and tasting rooms are now allowed to open as dine-in restaurants if they serve food or a meal, and dozens of businesses have already done so, according to Nancy Anderson of the Santa Barbara County Executive Office.
The Environmental Health Services division of the Public Health Department created COVID emergency food permits for establishments that don’t already sell food, and Anderson said 37 have been approved since the program launched last week.
Options on the permit include using a host kitchen, or contracting for a mobile food truck, catering, or restaurant-prepared meals with a third-party delivery service.
Most local wineries have been open for bottle pick-up, and several opened recently for “dine-in, sit down service” according to Santa Barbara Vintners.
Winery tasting rooms can only serve wine by the bottle or glass with the purchase of food.
Some of them are requiring or recommending reservations, since the tasting rooms are limiting capacity for COVID-19-related social distancing.
Two wineries with tasting rooms in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone — Santa Barbara Winery and LaFond Winery & Vineyards — have already opened and are pouring wine by the glass or bottle, served with a cheese plate and charcuterie plate, respectively.
Brewery tap rooms likewise can have “dine-in” service if they offer food, like Goleta’s M. Special Brewing Company and Draughtsmen Aleworks are doing.
M. Special has several different vendors, including barbecue, tacos and Mexican fusion, depending on the day, while Draughtsmen has Mylestone BBQ on site every Sunday afternoon, according to their company websites.
The county is also implementing encroachment permits for restaurants and other businesses to expand onto public property such as sidewalks and street parking spots.
Public Works Director Scott McGolpin said only four applications have been submitted so far, and the department is reaching out to businesses to spread the word.
If there is enough interest, he said, the county could temporarily close part of Pardall Road in Isla Vista to vehicles, to make it a pedestrian and bicyclist mall – something that has been talked about in the community’s master plans – so restaurants and shops can expand their footprint and accomplish social distancing.
County staff also propose waiving off-street parking requirements, so businesses can use their parking lots for outdoor dining tables or racks of merchandise, but that still has to be reviewed by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, McGolpin said.
Los Olivos Café was the first one to submit an encroachment permit application, and was approved to build an on-street patio similar to the one Savoy Café & Deli opened in downtown Santa Barbara, he said.
The cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta are also helping businesses expand outdoor dining areas, and Santa Barbara temporarily closed nine blocks of State Street downtown to vehicles. Outdoor seating areas were bustling on Memorial Day weekend.
Solvang is temporarily closing two blocks of Copenhagen Drive, starting Friday, to create more outdoor dining areas and room for stores to move some merchandise outside, according to the city.
The roadway will be closed to vehicles between Alisal Road and Second Street.