Thursday, May 28, 2020

Takoma Bev on closing Laurel Ave to vehicles + seating for restaurants in other areas

We're all eager for restaurants to reopen safely, and the safer way to reopen is via expanded outdoor seating. I think it's great that David Arkush started a petition calling, among other things, for the city to facilitate reopening by repurposing curb parking spaces and other public spaces for seating.
Closing Laurel Ave to vehicles is a possibility we've been discussing for a few years. I asked Takoma Bev about this and got this reply from Chris Brown, shared with his permission:

"This would be so huge for the businesses on our street. There is plenty of space in the back lot for drop offs, pick ups etc. I know our delivery drivers and Kin Da delivery drivers already use the back lot. If there is anything I can do as a business owner on the strip to show my support for the partial closing of Laurel please let me know!"
Regarding the impact on take-out delivery drivers, neither Takoma Bev nor Pizza Movers is listed on Uber Eats or Grubhub. I asked Takoma Bev about this. I found Chris's reply on that topic quite interesting so I'll share it as well, with his permission:
"We don't use any third party vendors for delivery for a couple reasons. We were able to keep a few employees on payroll by pivoting them to delivery drivers. After everything goes back to normal we are going to have to figure out who will be doing the deliveries as these employees will likely be back behind the bar. Another reason is that we chose to go with higher quality products at competitive prices as the basis for our business model which keeps our margins very tight. The third party services take too much off the top and we would be losing money on those orders."
Finally, regarding businesses in other locations: In addition to what David calls for in the petition, I'd recommend the city's working with commercial property owners to provide restaurant seating in shopping curb driving lanes and parking spaces adjacent to restaurant storefronts. I'm thinking in particular about restaurants along New Hampshire Avenue and in Takoma-Langley Crossroads shopping centers.