In Need of Space for Outdoor Dining, These Local Restaurants Got Creative

From Silver Lake to Culver City, a bunch of L.A. parking lots have become surprisingly cool al fresco dining spots

With COVID-19 restrictions and precautions creating demand for more outdoor dining, restaurateurs are getting very creative. At Mozza and Chi Spacca in Hancock Park, an area previously used for staff parking has been converted into “Piazza Mozza” with the aid of red market umbrellas, a vibrant checkerboard pattern painted on the asphalt, Edison string lights, and walls made of plywood initially used to board up the restaurant during the protests for racial justice.

“I want diners to have the feeling I get when I walk into the piazza of my favorite little town in Umbria,” says chef Nancy Silverton of the conversion, which took roughly two weeks and cost nearly $8,000.

akasha patio

Courtesy Akasha

At Akasha in Culver City, large potted olive trees, strands of lights, music via a Bluetooth speaker, and an overhead lattice create ambience on asphalt. “It’s very rustic chic,” says chef Akasha Richmond. The stylish outdoor space didn’t come cheap: Richmond says she spent about $5,500 on it—“way more than I wanted to . . . but people really like it.”

In Silver Lake at Bar Restaurant’s outdoor transformation—Bar Restaurant Valet Parking—potted plants are also key for both aesthetics and making diners feel safe.

“We placed tables 8 to 10′ away and added olive trees between tables so customers felt an extra layer of privacy while dining,” explains general manager Pierluc Dallaire.

republique patio

Courtesy Republique

République’s chef-owners Walter and Margarita Manzke went so far as to repave a portion of their parking area so that it appears to have trendy concrete floors. It “mimics the feel of our historic atrium and dining room,” says Walter of the outdoor space, which holds 25 tables.

The owners of Dear John’s in Culver City took more drastic measures to translate design elements from the interiors to the new parking-lot patio. The retro bar and restaurant commis sioned Venice artist Gary Palmer to replicate three panels of the dark, clubby dining room’s walls, which are hung with an eclectic array of paintings from the 1950s and ’60s.

“We literally brought the inside out,” says co-owner Patti Rockenwagner. “Everyone is undergoing so much change and uncertainty. They’re comforted by a bit of the familiar.”

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