Parklet problem a hairy situation for SF's Harry's Bar

A well known and very popular Pacific Heights pub and restaurant is facing the elimination of a significant portion of its outdoor dining area that brings some life to a street where day and nightlife once abounded. Outdoor dining sites, known as parklets, were created in many cities, to allow restaurants to survive until enough people can go back inside.

With city permission and permits in hand, 35-year-old Harry's Bar, a fixture on Fillmore Street in San Francisco invested $30,000 to create a parklet, a pandemic related outdoor dining area; a chance for beleaguered restaurants to survive.

This allows Harry's to employ 16 people.

"After losing a significant amount of money in 2020, the parklet allowed us to recoup some of that, not all of it, but some of it and it also created the ability for us to  bring some of our staff back," said Charles Johnson. Harry's Bar Manager.

But, a third of the parklet space, holding some 20 seats or more, is in front of the neighbor's building and the store tenant who gave permission to build it, has vacated. Now, the building's owner, not wanting a parklet in front of the empty store, complained. So, the City reversed course and ordered the bar to vacate that part of the space by March 15.

"In all fairness, they've actually been very fair with us and they've actually done a good job in managing the shared spaces thing and they are following kind of the letter of the rule of the shared space," said Mr. Johnson.

Specifically, the City Planning Department issued a statement saying: 'This requirement still applies if your neighbor changes their mind, or a new tenant is established in the neighboring ground floor space'.

"In all honesty, the only thing we're asking for, the end goal for me, is to be able to keep the parklet intact with that section at least until they open inside dining to 50%," said Johnson. To that end, Harry's has installed a new HVAC system for state-of-the-art ventilation.

There are numerous vacant storefronts on the block, but three food establishments trying to hang on. "It it wasn't for us, nobody would be here. We pay a lot of money into the sales tax coffers for the City as well; a heck of a lot more money than they would be making off of that parking meter down there," said Johnson.

Obviously there's room for some kind of a compromise here but not yet the will.