The Downtown Report (Early June)

Big Changes

Just a week and a half ago, when we first heard West Wilshire would be closed off to traffic and turned into a new space for restaurants and shops to expand their footprint and generate some income, that area looked every bit like a ghost town.

Many were looking for answers. Why was the street blocked off, and next, when will there be tables, chairs, people in the cleared space? Why are ‘they’ doing this? What about bicycle traffic? It’s now day two, and still nothing happening? What are they waiting for?

Blocked-off section of Wilshire Ave. for outdoor dining.

Moving Ahead at Last

There were signs that things were opening, even though no business had yet filled out the application and been approved to ‘open’ that part of our Downtown. Les Amis has their own outdoor space, so they were open when we went by at 3pm on Friday, May 22. Though hard to see, there is a patron sitting there, apparently the first to find out they had gone beyond takeout.

The next day, places like Roscoe’s Deli were partially open. No sitting at the bar, no sitting inside. Find a table and stay there, maintain distance. The Amerige block, spotlighted here in the last Observer, was mostly open, with new tables in the back parking lot and a few cautious and perhaps skeptical patrons stopping by. Many wondered if this was really happening. Was it safe? Are we finally seeing the return to ‘normal,’ whatever normal is, was, or will be?

By Memorial Day, text messages, calls, emails, and social media postings came flooding in—“We’re at the Matador.” “We’re at Vino Nostra.” “We’re at Joe’s.” “We’re downtown with a few parties at the bar, spaced social distancing style and a few in the dining room with empty tables spaced between them,” and on it went. Some diners/shoppers charged full speed ahead, some remained cautious and stayed home. Only time will tell how customers will handle this, and if all who do venture out, and all who get back to work, will indeed be OK.

All places of business have new restrictions, and all customers must continue to take every precaution in order to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 cases, but seeing things open up for two more today, Rutabegorz and Heroes, with more on the way, lets us know all of our favorites should soon be back.

Outdoor dining at Les Amis.


You heard the news about this last Tuesday and Wednesday, that all retailers may now reopen, but did you know exactly which ones have done so? Ace Hardware has been open the entire time, as you know, and Kings Flowers down the road on Commonwealth is open as of today. Past Times Collectibles (by appointment), hair salons, and barbershops, and so many more, are taking steps to open or have already done so.  At right we see Joe from Night Owl, happy that he can not only serve on his patio but perhaps expand to the concrete walkway as well as opening up inside, again, maintaining social distancing and whatever else is required. This column originally began with a list of who IS open, but now that most are, you can be relatively sure that your favorite places are indeed back in business. But you should check with them for hours and find out what restrictions apply.

Joe, owner of The Night Owl.

Congratulations Graduates

This year’s graduates may remember 2020 as the year many of their expectations went down the drain. But, resourceful people like Brooklyn Campbell, ASB friends, and families found a way to make it work. This wall (at right), with overflow on the sidewalk and fence once the wall space was filled, has the name of each senior who graduated from Fullerton High School this year, a total of 487. Maybe we will remember them as the class that decided to take on whatever life gave them and kept going. What a great tribute, and we all know they will make us proud as they do move on—on to great accomplishments.

Signs along Berkeley congratulating FUHS graduates.

Boys and Girls Club Generosity

Over 5,000 free meals have been handed out at this inspiring stand on South Richman Avenue.  Once again I was able to take photos from the window of my car, and all of those who were handing out the much-needed food were taking precautions as you can see. They told me the total may be more like 10,000 meals at some point. This is how we get through this, together. Well done!

Photo Quiz

Long derided, is this art, or was that just the name of the person who painted it?  The real question is, where was it? Send your answer to Mike at

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