Construction company provides free labor to assist local businesses
Parklets are popping up all around Santa Barbara to keep local restaurants afloat and able to serve during the coronavirus pandemic.
Allen Construction started working with business owners and is offering free labor to build the parklets, so all the businesses have to pay for is materials and design fees.
Because of the social distancing guidelines restaurants must follow, parklets have to be strategically built to keep customers spaced out and create a traffic flow.
Lindsay Helmick, the chief financial officer of Allen Construction, said the Santa Barbara company was searching for a way to help the community and found it in the parklets.
“Ever since things closed down, it’s been really hard to see our businesses in the Santa Barbara community struggle as much as they have,” she told the News-Press. “When the parklet idea came up in the city, we realized we could actually use our unique skill set and build these for community members.”
So far, the construction company has worked with six businesses that have had their parklets built or are in the process of building: the Press Room, Restaurant Roy, Villa Wine Bar and Kitchen, Brass Bear Brewing and Bistro, Renaud’s Patisserie and Bistro, and Dune Coffee.
“(Parklets) are such a vital part of the reopening process and keeping our community healthy,” Ms. Helmick said. “I do think they will gain a bit more traction as we move forward. A lot of other cities have done it. I think it promotes more community and attraction to those areas.”
She added that many other businesses in Santa Barbara have joined the project of building parklets. Along with donating materials, audio companies help with outdoor speakers, architecture companies assist with design, and lumber companies give good deals on the wood.
James Rafferty, the owner of the Press Room, said the bar couldn’t have opened without the help of Allen Construction.
“(Without the parklet,) opening wouldn’t be beneficial. We’d lose money,” he said. “I can’t see any reason why they can’t stay. Nobody can park here, and we’re complying with all the regulations.”
Rebekah Pardo, the manager of Renaud’s Patisserie and Bistro, said the parklet on Coast Village Road in Montecito will help maintain social distancing and provide more tables for customers.
“We have a patio, and there’s not too many tables out there so it’s really hard to keep social distancing,” she said. “The parklets are an opportunity to serve more people safely.”
The manager added that the bakery’s business has actually grown since the pandemic started, and she hopes it will keep growing with the addition of the parklet.
“I think it’ll help business because a lot of people end up leaving because of how little space we have,” Ms. Pardo said. “(Parklets) will help us be able to serve (customers) safely and help us have as many people as possible.”