Partial Valencia Street closure hopes to boost outdoor business

The City of San Francisco Thursday unveiled a project that businesses hope will mean a boost to their bottom line.

Part of Valencia Street in the Mission has been closed off to allow a business to move its operations outdoors to attract more customers.

“We will set up on the curbside and then we’ll also set up like one of two tables right next to our restaurant,” said JoAnna Sanavria, manager of Project Juice on Valencia Street.

She described how her business will adjust to the extra room that the city is creating for Project Juice to welcome more customers when Valencia Street between 16th and 17th streets and 18th and 19th streets is closed down every Thursday through Sunday.

Since the coronavirus pandemic stuck the restaurant industry has been hit hard, which had led some closures or triggered a precipitous drop in business.

“I think it’s really important for a lot of businesses. We’re really hoping to see increased foot traffic as well,” said Graeme Lowe, manager of Dandelion Chocolate.

Lowe is looking forward to the change that involves prohibiting vehicles from driving or parking on the section of Valencia Street in front of his business between 4 in the afternoon to 10 at night for four days a week.

The move is a welcome change to boost business, but it’s not without its challenges.

The Mission has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in all of San Francisco with 827.

“It is terribly concerning and it is critically important that people wear masks and follow the public health guidance. There's a tendency you know when you're drinking to take the mask off and get in people's faces. This is not the time for that,” said Sup. Rafael Mandelman, whose district represents part of Valencia Street.

Retail shops will also be able to move their businesses outdoors and into the street for the temporary experiment that’s scheduled to run for the next three months.

It remains to be seen whether the project will be extended after its projected end date.