At a time when the coronavirus is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, restaurants across the Santa Clarita Valley are stepping up their game to provide guests with unique outdoor setups that allow for fun, yet safe dining.
While some restaurants have chosen to use their existing outdoor patio spaces, others have taken advantage of new guidelines that allow them to expand into nearby sidewalks, streets and even parking spots.
Regardless, restaurants have utilized tents, umbrellas, mist makers and other outdoor decor to make the experience as seamless as possible for their customers.
For Councilman Bill Miranda, it’s a sign of American ingenuity, as restaurants figure out a way to sustain themselves through the pandemic.
“This is a fantastic idea,” Miranda said. “It’s a blessing … not just for the restaurantours, not just for the employees, not just for the clients, but for all of us mentally, who are locked up in our homes, to be able to get out, get some fresh air and maybe even at a distance socialize with some people.”
Here in the SCV, there are a plethora of options for al fresco dining, each of which provides its own one-of-a-kind experience.
Salt Creek Grille
Though Salt Creek Grille already had a large outdoor patio pre-COVID-19, the restaurant has pushed their boundaries, expanding into three patios, including a brand new courtyard patio.
With fire pits and lights lining the trees and umbrellas, the locale offers the perfect ambiance for a night out.
“It was like a whole new restaurant experience,” Saugus resident Whitney Edwards said about her recent trip to Salt Creek. “I honestly felt like I was in Paris, with the sparkly lights and warm weather.”
While expecting things to be a bit different, Edwards was relieved that things felt once again “normal.”
“Even with the face masks and shields our servers were great, as was the food, which was delicious as always,” she added.
Salt Creek is open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Known for its martinis and for providing a local fine dining experience, The Social’s new outdoor patio lives up to its reputation.
The restaurant has created an outdoor patio to include a customized tent and wood deck that takes up about a half-dozen parking spots out front.
“The patio looks like it’s been there all along,” Valencia resident Quinn Taylor said. “We went for the martinis, but honestly couldn’t have asked for a better dining experience.”
The Social is open 4-9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Over at Olive Terrace, the restaurant’s outdoor seating has more than doubled in size, with tables that stretch around a fountain and across the sidewalks.
In covering so much ground, the restaurant has been able to space tables well over 6 feet, and with lights wrapped around every pole, along with umbrellas and cooling fans, restaurant goers can enjoy their meal in comfort.
“They’ve got one of the best patio arrangements I’ve seen thus far,” Valencia resident Stephen Boone said. “We felt like we were almost on a private patio seated next to the fountain, with only one other table across the way.”
Olive Terrace is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.
Main Street Newhall
Restaurants between Market and 6th streets have taken over Main Street Newhall, filling parking stalls with outdoor eateries, some even putting in artificial grass.
On weekends through August, the street is set to be closed to traffic, allowing restaurants and their customers more room to social distance, while on weekdays, water-filled K-rails allow for outdoor dining to continue through the week.
Participating restaurants include Newhall Press Room, The Old Town Junction and Smokehouse on Main, while others, such as El Trocadero, are using their existing outdoor patio setups.
While Way Station was another SCV restaurant that began without a patio, the tables and chairs that now line the perimeter are almost always filled each morning, even on weekdays.
“I love that I can finally get my breakfast fix again,” Newhall resident Walt Oliver said. “I’ve been coming to the Way Station since it opened in the ‘70s, and eating outside was just as enjoyable as it has always been eating inside.”
Newhall couple Carl and Sam Phillips’ visit to Main Street on a recent weekend was their first outing in months.
“It felt really good to get out there and feel some semblance of normal,” Carl Phillips said, chuckling. “The restaurants did a great job of making their setups look professional, even down to the fake grass.”
Though only their first outing, the Phillips were impressed with the care each restaurant took in following public health guidelines through the heat.
“We could see the effort they had taken in making everyone feel safe, and it was certainly much appreciated,” Phillips added. “We loved it and will definitely be returning.”
Way Station is open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. The Old Town Junction is open from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. M-Th, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. F, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sat and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.