Downtown Visalia restaurants surviving despite new outdoor dining challenges

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Corby's Rock N Roll Heroes' downtown Visalia debut certainly didn't go as planned.

Just days after opening, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered all restaurants in Tulare County to close indoor operations.

Eventually, that order applied to the entire state.

"It was really taking off, starting to gain some steam, and then yup, we got shut down again," Denny Maurice said.

For Corby's, an 80's rock n' roll themed bar and grill, to-go orders just weren't cutting it.

So it was welcome news when Downtown Visalians made roadside dining an option for downtown restaurants late last month.

To date, 19 restaurants are serving customers in the street, protected by concrete barriers.

"We have one restaurant that has emphatically said to us, if he didn't have roadside dining, he would have closed his doors and just waited it out," Downtown Visalians Executive Director Steve Nelsen said.

Nelsen says scorching triple-digit temperatures and abysmal air quality have been a challenge in recent days, but that, surprisingly, it's not stopping people from dining out downtown.

"It's amazing the number of people that have come out even when it was 106," Nelsen said. "People were here, they ate, then they went home."

"Yeah last week was real tough," Maurice said. "I think today's probably a little bit better, but for the most part, people are coming out and supporting downtown and that's good."

For now, Corby's will make it work outside.

But they're eager for the day they can bring customers back inside-for the real experience.

Nelsen says roadside dining will be an option until indoor dining is allowed in Tulare County again.
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