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Bayside Approves Center Court Dining

By Jorge Casuso

April 25 -- Dining could be coming soon to the Third Street Promenade's center court, following a unanimous vote by the Bayside District board Thursday night.

The dining pilot program, which does not require City Council approval and could be in place by summer, will convert center court into a rotating venue for Downtown restaurants. Bayside officials hope it will help promote area eateries and stem the exodus of restaurants from the Promenade due to escalating rents.

"It sounds exciting," said Council member Pam O'Connor, a liaison to the board.

"I'm certainly in support of the pilot program," said Mayor Michael Feinstein, the council's other liaison.

Under the program, participating restaurants would enter into a License Agreement with the City to provide "food demonstration services and food sales," and would be responsible for supervising the licensed area.

"Staff will develop a rotating schedule based on the needs of the selected restaurants, the equitable distribution of peak and off-peak days, as well as the availability of the center court area," accriding to a memo to the Bayside board from City staff.

The license fees are expected to pay for the program, which likely will cost the City between $12,000 and $15,000 to set up. The City will provide a pavilion for food preparation, a portable sink with hot water required by the County Health Department, tables and chairs, trash receptacles and stanchions.

The program is initially expected to operate every day except Wednesday (when the sink is used by the Farmers Market) from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will be limited to restaurants in the Central Business District, which pay assessments and are within walking distance of the court. The City will employ Chrysalis or Step Up on Second to set up and take down the items.

In addition to promoting restaurants, the program is expected to reclaim an area currently monopolized by teenagers and young adults, whose hacky sac playing and punk style intimidates visitors to the Promenade.

Bayside officials recognize that the out door dining will likely push the young people to the other courts on the Promenade, but they hope that if the pilot program is successful, it will be expanded to the north and south courts.
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