Al Fresco dining has always been available to Larchmont. It’s part of the street’s charm, but it’s usually limited to the sidewalks. This week, three local restaurants, Le Petit Greek, Village Pizzeria and Vernetti Italian Restaurant are all taking advantage of the city’s Al Fresco dining program, which allows restaurants to move tables into the street while the City provides planters, barricades, and umbrellas for outdoor dining businesses to use in the newly permitted spaces. Larchmont is a perfect location because of the angled parking spaces in front of each restaurant.
The city’s Department of Transportation, which is managing the program, invited each restaurant to request the use of two spaces, according to Nora Houndalas, owner of Le Petit Greek. Village Pizzeria and Le Petit Greek are sharing six spaces (they each picked up one more for the vacant store front next door to Le Petit Greek) so they have a big open space where patrons can be safely spaced out.
“We are doing our best to try to restore some sense of family and community,” Village Pizzeria owner Steve Cohen told the Buzz.
Up the street at Vernetti, that restaurant’s outdoor space is being used for a hostess stand and space where patrons can pick up their take out orders.
“We only have two parking spaces, so it’s too small for tables, there’s not enough room to social distance patrons, but we have been really fortunate that Joane Pickett, owner of Pickett Fences is allowing us to put tables in front of her store,” giving them ample sidewalk space for tables, Steve Vernetti told the Buzz. He’s planning to go back to DOT to ask for another space or two since the building on the north side of him is vacant and has been for over a decade.
All three restauranteurs praised DOT and Rob Fisher, from Councilmember David Ryu’s office, for their quick response and their genuine desire to listen and help out Larchmont’s restaurants.
It’s definitely going to help and it makes patrons feel safer, explained Nora Houndalas.
When Windsor Village resident and Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti picked up his takeout order, Steve Vernetti told us the mayor was happy to see how the program being utilized. Vernetti said he pressed the mayor to remind residents that small businesses were working hard to comply with health department rules and should not be blamed for the recent spikes in infection rates.
Many of Larchmont’s small businesses are struggling to find ways to stay open during the pandemic and restaurants are particularly hard hit because rents on the street and very high and we have not heard of any commercial landlords who have extended rent abatement or relief of any kinds to any businesses on the street.
While appreciative of the city’s efforts and the responsiveness of city staff, Steve Cohen told us, “this is not a cure all, the struggle is real.”
Village Pizzeria is open Wednesday through Saturday from 4:00 – 8:00 pm for takeout and outside dining in the street. They also offer delivery through Door Dash and can take credit cards.
Le Petit Greek is currently only open for dinner from Tuesday through Thursday, from 4:00 – 8:00 pm, Friday and Saturday 4:00 – 8:30 p.m. and this Sunday, 1:00 – 8:30 p.m. Houndalas said this weekend, they’re going to try opening at 1 p.m. for anyone who wants a mid-day meal. Houndalas told the Buzz they are trying it all and it feels like things are coming back a bit more on Sundays.
For takeout, they offer their menu plus discounted family meals for 2 or 4 people with contactless payment and will bring your order out to the car. You can order online through their website or you are welcome to call the restaurant.
“We have noticed that regulars like to phone in orders personally to have a chat, so we are open to both,” said Houndalas.
Vernetti is open for lunch, dinner and brunch. Tuesday through Sunday they are open for lunch 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; dinner 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. and they serve brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m. then serve dinner from 5:30 p.m. -9:00 p.m.
“There’s a sense the village is coming alive again,” said Houndalas. “It feels good to have some movement on the Blvd.”
Steve Vernetti agreed.
“Business is picking back up,” said Vernetti. “It seems to be building in the last few days, hopefully, to a sustainable level.”
Be sure to wear your mask when you support our local businesses.