There's Now a Dining Room in the Parking Garage at This L.A. Shopping Mall
According to its robust Store Directory, there are almost 200 retailers in the Glendale Galleria shopping mall in Glendale, California, including three dozen fast-casual restaurants, sit-down eateries, and snack vendors. But due to the continued spread of coronavirus, only its five anchor stores (Bloomingdales, Dick's Sporting Goods, JCPenney, Macy's, and Target) are open right now, while only McDonald's and In-N-Out Burger are accepting walk-in customers.
"These are challenging times for our world, but we remain steadfast in our commitment to the health and well-being of our guests, employees, tenants and partners," the Galleria wrote on its website.
"Pursuant to the State of California’s July 13, 2020 Statewide Public Health Officer Order, malls, fitness centers and gyms, indoor dining and certain other indoor activities located in counties included on the California Public Health Department’s County Monitoring List for three consecutive days or more must close [...] thus, Glendale Galleria's interior retail stores and our common area amenities must temporarily closed. Curbside pickup, takeout and delivery, and outdoor dining are permitted."
But the Galleria has made an interesting adaptation to its current situation, turning its parking garage into a… unique outdoor dining area. Steven Sayers, the shopping mall's general manager, told NBC Los Angeles that restaurant patrons who wanted to eat their takeout on-site were seated in the Galleria's outdoor patio. But as those seats filled up—and stayed full—they needed to expand somewhere, and the mostly empty parking garage seemed like a logical enough place to put some extra tables and chairs. "Otherwise we have to close permanently," Sayers said.
It's also helping restaurant owners who aren't getting any foot traffic, not with the interior of the mall closed for now. "This [shutdown is] unique," Gevik Baghdassarian, the owner of Massis Kabob said. "This one seems like it's going to be the hardest one to get through but I'm optimistic."
Food & Wine has reached out to the Galleria for a full list of restaurants that are currently serving customers in the garage. In the meantime, mall execs say that eating beside a row of recently parked cars is a totally acceptable thing that people can do right now. "Our mall team has gotten creative so our guests can experience a small sense of normalcy and have a meal in a safe, distanced way," Lindsey Kahn, a spokesperson for Brookfield Properties, the mall's Chicago-based owner and operator, told KTLA.
The reaction to the parking garage, uh, dining experience was mixed on social media. "It’s great to try to help these businesses stay afloat any way they can," one person wrote. "Unhealthy on so many levels," another added. "I understand people feeling antsy at home, but do you really need mall food so badly, you’ll eat it in a car park?"
That depends… I mean, is Auntie Anne's being served outside? Because yes, that might just be worth it.