Not sure what to do with that awkward public space in front of your shop? Maybe it’s time for a parklet.
The parklet concept is not new. It first took off in Left Coast cities including San Francisco and Los Angeles beginning in 2010, but it seems to have survived a kind of trial period among many other city planners and business owners. The recipe for parklets — which almost always fall on underutilized public space such as extended street sidewalks or parking spaces — typically involves some combination of public and private funding.
For the municipality, the parklet is primarily an opportunity for private investment in a public space that can help draw people to a retail corridor. For coffee shop owners, the parklet is an opportunity for additional seating and positive relations within the community.
See some lovely examples of succesful, happy coffee-shop-funded parklets at Four Barrel (San Francisco), Mojo Cafe (San Francisco), and Caffe Calabria (San Diego). Brand spanking new parklets include this $17,000, 5-to-7 seater with rain garden outside Olympia Coffee Roasting (Olympia, Wash.), and this big $26,000 beauty outside Simple Pleasures Cafe in San Francisco’s Richmond District.