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Chula Vista sets aside $300K to fund outdoor dining set-ups

The city council has approved allocating $300,00 in federal pandemic relief funds to help reimburse businesses who build outdoor dining on Third Avenue.

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — The City of Chula Vista is making it easier for businesses to crawl out of pandemic-induced financial pits.

The city council has approved allocating $300,000 from federal pandemic relief funds, to be used for reimbursing businesses for outdoor set-ups along the Third Avenue business corridor.

"More often than not people want to be sat outside rather than inside," Dr. Gonzalo Quintero, co-owner and operator of Tavern at the Vogue said.

Quintero, or Dr. Q for short, set up the patio at the Tavern in November, as a way to expand the restaurant's capacity at the height of the pandemic. They hired an architect, got their plans approved, built and inspected, and have been going strong since.

"We want to feed the community, we want to give them a place to get together, a place to drink, and do it in a safe manner," Quintero said.

Miranda Evans, a special projects manager with the City's Economic Development Office says the funding, and the streamlining of the permitting process, is all an attempt to help out some of their biggest economic generators.

"Third Avenue is really the heart and soul of Chula Vista," Evans said. "It's home to many of the small businesses and these are the businesses that really needed that expanded occupancy."

Businesses on Third Avenue, between E and G Streets, can apply for grants and use the money to pay for permit fees, design, and construction of their new outdoor set-ups.

The City of Chula Vista will reimburse up to $15,000 for "curb cafes" and up to $4,000 for "sidewalk cafes."

Mayor Mary Casillas Salas is fully in support of the decision.

"Like many communities, the heart and soul of our economy is small business and their success," Casillas said. "I personally know so many of the people that have invested all their money and their dreams into opening these small businesses. The beauty about these businesses on Third Avenue is many of them are local folks."

Dr. Q says the chance to recoup some of their investment is an attractive prospect, and adds they're happy with the support they've received from the city to go further into recovery.

"Now is not the time to let your foot off the gas," he said. "Now's the time to push even harder."

Evans says the reimbursement program will run for about two years, at which point they will re-evaluate it.

While the grants are only for businesses on Third Avenue, between E and G streets right now, other shops can apply to be featured on the Choose Chula app for free.

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