Outdoor dining now allowed in San Francisco

It's a sight not seen in San Francisco since the city began sheltering in place in march, customers returning to their favorite restaurants. The city is allowing restaurants to serve customers outside. For some it's a lifeline, for others it will serve as much needed seating space when they open their doors again.

It is the day Zazie and hundreds of other restaurants in San Francisco have been waiting for. Owner Mario Rojas is eager to welcome back customers, even if it's only outside dining for now.

"Today is a huge day," said Rojas. "We're very thankful that we're able to open some tables on the patio and we're ready to serve some people now."

As of Friday restaurants are allowed to host diners, as long as they're not inside. Gwyneth Borden from the Bay Area Hospitality Coalition says outdoor dining is an incremental step in returning to normal. But for restaurants offering outdoor dining, it could still be a challenge.

"There are going to be many people who just aren't comfortable sitting outside on the street, either because of the weather, or because of the fact we are social distancing in our shelters there are more people roaming around on the streets with less places to go and and that are sometimes unfortunately in distress,' said Borden.

Laurie Thomas, head of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, says June with it's wind and fog might not be the ideal time to lure diners back with a meal outside. But, that outdoor seating will serve as an important way to accommodate more customers once they're allowed back inside. Indoor capacity will in all likelihood be reduced because restaurants will have to space customers out to allow for social distancing.

"Yeah, but that's the whole point of the outside dining," said Thomas. "If we can make it work then we're going to add back all that capacity we lose, right. That's the real exciting component of it to me. Plus I think it will really invigorate the city if we can make this happen."

Mayor London Breed made the most of the reopening herself, visiting the Bayview's Cafe Envy for a late lunch. The mayor said she hears and understands the restaurants and other businesses that want a return to normal, but says it's going to take time.

"Now that the state has its own policies in place we cant move faster than they can unless we receive a variance, which we have made requests, so that we can get some things open sooner rather than later

Right now the target date for allowing restaurants to serve inside their dining areas July 13.