A place for everyone: The Sidewalk Café


Just when you think there is nothing new under the sun, we have something that has really come into its own – the sidewalk café. These charming open-air seating options are a part of our San Diego experience, taking advantage of the beautiful climate and the chance to spend a bit of time in the outdoors.

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, sidewalk cafes have sprung up all over the area. Some of them are taking up a lot of space in the street, and others are carefully tucked into available spots that otherwise might be overlooked.

Let’s take a quick look at a sidewalk café and what they offer. Start with a table with an umbrella (remember it is under the sun), the umbrella provides a quiet and serene shaded pool next to the busy sidewalk. And while sitting under the umbrella there is great people-watching. When seeking a table, find one that is appropriate for what is served at the café or restaurant. Look for a few chairs – scattered around – just out of the path of the sidewalk, but so inviting that you could easily spend an hour there.

This is what I find to be new: the feeling that we can enjoy our streets and sidewalks for a few minutes longer. This is one way we also can spend more time with our neighbors and our neighborhood.

At Alcorn & Benton Architects, we have noticed an increase in applications for sidewalk cafés. We like to emphasize the qualities of each location to make them more special. We had the privilege of working on a couple of sidewalk cafes, and one example really stands out: this is at the boardwalk in front of the Shores Hotel at La Jolla Shores. This boardwalk is a great promenade, wide enough for a lot of people, with a seawall that is just the right height, and it passes along all kinds of grass areas at the parks, play areas for children, and of course the beach.

It is at this boardwalk that the Shores Hotel invited Alcorn & Benton Architects to create a sidewalk café. This is designed to meet the Covid requirements, plus it is an all-grass area with environmentally friendly plants, and even a water dish for your dog who came along for the walk.

Everyone is invited. Step to the side of the boardwalk and the hostess will be pleased to find a seat for you. Take a refreshing sip of something, maybe get a bite to eat, and enjoy the finest people-watching right by the beach. I am sure this will be the place to be from midmorning through to dinner time.

Alcorn & Benton Architects in La Jolla have been designing projects throughout Southern California for more than 30 years. To learn more visit or call (858) 459-0805.