Authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, who represents Woodland Hills, AB 61 provides restaurants with regulatory flexibility on several outdoor dining provisions, including enabling more outdoor food preparation and service and extending existing Department of Alcohol Beverage Control orders allowing for alcohol service outdoors. AB 61 also includes an urgency clause, meaning the measure goes into effect immediately.
“The restaurant industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. With indoor dining rooms still closed in most places, outdoor dining has become an important lifeline for restaurants,” Madelyn Alfano, immediate past chair of the California Restaurant Association board and owner of Maria’s Italian Kitchen in Van Nuys, said in a statement. “AB 61 will help to address issues restaurants face as we have created outdoor spaces to continue to serve our customers. Nothing is more important to me than the safety of our customers and the ability to continue to provide delicious meals for my community.”
The bill comes as part of an ongoing economic recovery of restaurants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of August, according to research from the National Restaurant Association, California had 234,800 fewer eating and drinking establishments than it did in August 2019.
"The changes we made to support outdoor dining during the pandemic saved countless jobs and businesses, and Angelenos have been clear that they want to see these improvements stay in place for good,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.