Restaurant Wrap: Are restaurant parklets here to stay?

For many restaurants, the improvised patios have greatly expanded seating as social distancing and indoor dining restrictions continue.|

This new feature collects restaurant and dining news from around Sonoma County each week.

Sonoma Media Investments, owner of The Press Democrat, Petaluma Argus-Courier, Sonoma Index-Tribune, Sonoma Magazine and others, is introducing a new feature focused on restaurant and dining news from the county.

Restaurant parklets, the sometimes lovely, sometimes flimsy outdoor dining areas built on sidewalks and parking spots for additional outdoor dining, are here to stay, at least for now. In early October, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed bills allowing restaurant parklets and sidewalk dining to continue from now until a year after the pandemic emergency ends, whenever that might be. Senate Bill 314’s year-long extension from an as-yet-unknown date gives restaurateurs a year from then to go through local permitting processes to keep their parklets permanently. For many restaurants, the improvised patios have greatly expanded seating as social distancing and indoor dining restrictions continue.

The popular booze-to-go rules also have been extended. A recently ratified bill allows restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries that sell food to continue to offer alcoholic beverages to go, along with food orders, through Dec. 31, 2026 — for pick-up only, and not for delivery.

Santa Rosa

Since announcing the closure of Fourth Street Social Club this month, former owner Melissa Matteson and Chef Jeremy Cabrera are teasing a new project called “Smoke and Mirrors.” No further details yet, but Cabrera made magic in the postage-stamp-size downtown Santa Rosa kitchen without a gas range or hood. The team won a Snail of Approval award for their dedication to using local ingredients and had a small but loyal following.

Petaluma

Argus-Courier food writer Houston Porter is loving OSHA Thai BBQ, a recently opened fast-casual spot in north Petaluma.

“Hats off to any restaurant that opened during the pandemic,” Porter wrote. “In the case of the recently opened Osha Thai BBQ, this experienced restaurant group based out of San Francisco is well-versed in take-out and delivery. It has become a staple during these sporadic indoor dining times, and they also make some pretty darn good food.”

His favorite dishes included vegetarian crispy rolls and samosas, chicken satay, barbecue plates and sticky rice with mango for dessert. 1390 N. McDowell Blvd., in the old “OSH” shopping center at the corner of North McDowell Boulevard and Old Redwood Highway.

Around the county

This year marks the 16th season of the Heritage Turkey Project, jointly run by the Thode Family, Slow Food Russian River and youth agriculture organizations. Raised by 4-H and FFA youth in Sonoma County, the heritage turkeys are an alternative to the industrially raised white broad-breasted turkey.

Raised on organic feed, the brilliantly plumed turkeys are harvested locally and never frozen, with sales proceeds going directly to the young people who raise the birds. The topic of “where to get Thanksgiving turkeys” has already started to invade social media, so before you miss your chance, go to heritageturkeyproject.com and snatch one up.

Index-Tribune columnist Kathleen Hill and Argus-Courier columnist Houston Porter contributed to this report.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor