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Owner Relents on Indoor Dining, Erects Tent Outside Restaurant’s Front Door



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After hitting an impasse with city and county officials over the operation of his northwest Fresno restaurant, the owner of Pismo’s Coastal Grill confirmed he’s stopped offering indoor dining and will focus on getting folks outside.

“We’re starting tent patio dining tomorrow (Friday),” Dave Fansler said in a text message.

“We’re starting tent patio dining.”Dave Fansler, president of the Fansler Restaurant Group

Multiple Parking Spots Used

Workers set up a large dining tent right outside the front door of the restaurant.

At least a couple of dozen parking spots were taken up by the metal frame topped with a white canopy. A party rental delivery truck was parked nearby.

A large dining tent is set up in the parking lot outside of Pismo’s Coastal Grill in northwest Fresno. (GV Wire/Jim Jakobs)

Indoor Patio Argument

Fansler’s pivot to erecting a new outdoor dining space follows a two week dispute with the city and county over the configuration of Pismo’s existing dining area.

The well-known Fresno restaurateur says he’s called the layout a patio for well over a decade. The Fresno County Health Department said it falls under the definition of  an indoor dining space, which is prohibited under the state’s COVID-19 emergency order.

A sign at the front door to Pismo’s asks restaurant guests to wear masks. (GV Wire/Jim Jakobs)

Fansler said the air system he installed twelve years ago cost $100,000. Customers seated next to any of the restaurant’s large open-air windows, he says, feel something akin to a stiff, outdoor breeze.

Fresno County Health Officer Weighs In

During a media briefing on July 6, the county’s interim health officer, Dr. Rais Vohra, responded to Fansler’s statements.

“We’re asking for clarification. But as it stands now, the open windows would not be enough to consider that outdoor dining. I know that that’s a somewhat controversial statement. But as it stands, it’s still considered indoor dining with open windows. And, as the mandate from the state requires, that would not be permitted,” Vohra said.

Fansler says he’s received three citations for operating an indoor restaurant since the state’s order went into effect July 1. He’s hired high powered local attorney Warren Paboojian to represent him in the dispute.