By CBSLA Staff

MANHATTAN BEACH (CBSLA) — Part of a popular thoroughfare in Manhattan Beach is temporarily closed to vehicle traffic, to help local restaurants thrive during the pandemic.

The closure comes just in time for Valentine’s Day.

“It’s really refreshing, to be honest, we got to dress up and feel like ourselves again,” customer Frank Artichi.

Frank Artichi and his girlfriend were thrilled to kick off their Valentine’s Day celebration early with drinks along Manhattan Avenue in Manhattan Beach.

“It’s really nice that everyone’s being cautious about it and the restaurants are taking part of that and they’re setting up all these tables. It’s really nice to know we can do this while we’re safe,” customer Isa Reyes said.

The city shut down the street from Manhattan Beach Boulevard to 12 Street, beginning Friday to allow for additional social distancing and safe outdoor dining at its restaurants.

A manager at Tacolicious says Valentine’s Day weekend is a big money-maker, and they’ve been gearing up to safely serve customers.

The street closure is a welcome sight for businesses desperate to get their employees back to work.

“This means a lot to us, not only personally but to our staff,” said Anival Maldonado of Tacolicious. “Being able to provide a job back to our staff because just like you mentioned we’ve all been struggling it’s been hard and very difficult.”

Late last month, the governor gave the green light for dining outside to resume, with safety modifications, including servers wearing both masks and face shields, tables now eight feet apart, and no TVs allowed in seating areas to prevent crowds from gathering.

Customers say they’re happy to invest in local businesses knowing they’re doing their part to slow the spread of the virus.

While the street closure has been good for business, Manhattan Beach officials say it has significantly reduced traffic in the area and they plan to evaluate the impact this week to determine if any changes need to be made.