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A colorful new “parklet” opened last weekend on State Street in Carlsbad, adding more al fresco dining to the heart of the village.

Decorated with planters and umbrellas, a curb café now occupies the two diagonal parking spots directly in front of Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant. It holds space for 24 customers, including a long bench seat that can accommodate large groups.

According to waiter José Payo, the new deck has been popular since the moment it opened on Friday evening, November 1; it was especially crowded during the recent Carlsbad Street Fair. “It was non-stop on Sunday,” says Payo. “We had a line all day and every seat was filled.”

Last March, the Carlsbad City Council approved a three-year pilot program that would allow temporary decks to be built in the parking spaces directly in front of local restaurants. Up to 11 of these curb cafés may be built in the core village area on lower-speed streets, using up to two parking spots each. Participating restaurants will have to pay monthly fees of $100 per space to the city to offset the loss of parking.

So far, it appears that construction costs and a small monthly fee are a small price to pay for happy customers. Recent Garcia’s diners Dan and Ron from Las Vegas were delighted as they enjoyed their margaritas.

“This is perfect!” said Dan, “All of the restaurants on this street should have one.” His enthusiasm was matched by the next customer who arrived — a woman in need of a late lunch who was thrilled to learn that her dog was welcome to stay with her on the deck.

More curb cafés are expected to be constructed on State Street soon. Vigilucci’s is said to be interested and City of Carlsbad planner Austin Silva confirms that the Australian Grill has filed an application.

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