Local businesses are essential to any city and neighborhood throughout the world. Not only do they create jobs, they also develop a sense of community—a sense of place. Imagine San Francisco without Taquerias, New York City without bodegas, or Portland without coffee shops. All of these local businesses make each city unique and a place their residents are proud to call home. 

Every operating business generates sales, income, and property tax revenues, all critical to any society. Without this revenue, local economies experience a chain reaction that hurts the community. Reductions in funding for public schools, roadworks, and health care—the knock-on effect is long. Spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic, local economies worldwide have been struggling to manage the financial hurricane they have endured due to shelter-in-place orders.

As cities begin to reopen and ease shelter-in-place regulations, local businesses will need to reimagine how they will operate moving forward. As we’ve already seen in many states in the US, business owners are being faced with strict occupancy restrictions for the foreseeable future, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as well as ward off a second wave of the pandemic. Due to these restrictions, businesses are being forced to take a step back and reconsider how we utilize our outdoor spaces—from sidewalks to patios to parking lots, wherever they can safely operate their business with social distancing in effect. 

We have already seen the closing of streets to car traffic across the country, and here in San Francisco, streets have been closed to enable people to walk and bike more freely while keeping social distance intact. Other cities in Florida and Georgia have begun to permit restaurants to set up tables on streets in front of their establishments and turn parking lots into additional new dining areas. Earlier this month, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo announced an “Al Fresco San Jose” initiative that would allow restaurants to claim sidewalk, alley, and street spaces. 

In California, as we begin phase two of our reopening policy, businesses that can utilize outdoor space should consider creative and innovative ways they can operate. Additionally, cities will need to be flexible with permitting regulations so that local businesses can identify ways to offset income loss—due to maximum occupancy regulations—to uphold social distancing measures.

As Off the Grid continues to reimagine how we operate as shelter-in-place restrictions ease, we too need to be open to new ways of supporting local businesses and interacting with our community. Enjoying food and beverages may look very different as we lean on our biggest asset during the COVID-19 pandemic—the outdoors. Imagine enjoying a nice round of golf, followed by delicious local food from food trucks parked at the clubhouse, instead of going into the clubhouse for your post-game meal and drinks. Or perhaps instead of hosting a private party, the party comes to you in your favorite park with catered meal options and temporary pop-up elements of comfort such as sheltered pods or bumper tables. The options for creativity are endless if we allow businesses to get creative about how they can operate outdoors, to ensure they’ll have a chance to survive these tough economic times. 

Revolution Event Design & Production

With over 10 years of experience and expertise in transforming underutilized outdoor spaces into safe, memorable, and fun experiences, we’re here to continue supporting our community. 

To learn more about how Off the Grid is creating unique opportunities for local businesses and communities, contact us here