New Open SLO program brings boost to business and morale in San Luis Obispo

New Open SLO program brings boost to business and morale in San Luis Obispo.

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — San Luis Obispo decided to try something new to help downtown business. The city is piloting a program called Open SLO, allowing businesses to extend onto certain sidewalks, parking spots, and streets.

«We know a lot of our restaurants and retailers are limited to how many people they can have indoors,» said Luke Schwartz, transportation manager for the city. «The data shows that it’s a lot safer to be outside and eating where you can be spaced from people in the fresh air.»

Open SLO is their opportunity to offer that.

The city plans to modify the program as it needs, but for now the plan is to try it out for a year.

Suzi Savarese visited the city with her family, in anticipation of her son attending school there.

«We were here last night and there weren’t that many opportunities to eat,» Savarese said.» There were long waits, so it’s great to come back tonight and see all the tables rolling out.»

Only Monterey Street is closed during the first weekend, but starting next week, Higuera Street will also close.

Open SLO takes place Thursdays and Fridays between 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and on weekends between 11:00 am and 8:00 pm.

Businesses say Open SLO could boost business.

Aurash Afshar, manager at Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica, said their whole team is excited.

«It’s the first night we’ve been able to do this. so we’re excited that the city was able to work with us and make this happen,» said Afshar.

Businesses also say the program can boost morale while keeping everyone healthy.

David Annaguey, director of operations at Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen next door was likewise excited.

«This is such a good vibrant energy, and as you guys know, that type of energy is contagious,» said Annaguey. «We really think that it could go throughout the entire city and it can lead to some really fun nights with just everyone together.»

Giuseppe’s and Finney’s are sharing the alley between them to seat more people outside.

Open SLO is similar to other programs in Santa Barbara, Solvang and Ventura.