By CBSLA Staff

LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — Expanded outdoor dining has become part of the norm since the coronavirus pandemic hit, but now people question if it should be a thing of the past in some areas to make room for car traffic.

Restaurant owners met on Tuesday night to voice their concerns on both sides.

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Local employees say with summer right around the corner, wait times could soon increase, especially if Long Beach city leaders move forward with plans to reopen Pine Avenue to cars.

“Now with the conventions opening at the end of the month as well, we want to keep this area the way it is to bring more people in and we’ll have more space to serve everybody as we did,” said restaurant manager Janet Avalos.

The street has been closed to traffic for the last nine months so restaurants struggling during the pandemic could add outdoor seating and boost their profits.

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Expanded outdoor dining has surfaced all across the Southland, from Pasadena to places in Orange County, helping many restaurants stay in business.

Avalos says that al fresco dining has not only been a lifesaver for struggling businesses but is also a preference for many diners who are not yet comfortable eating indoors.

“We have those people who are more comfortable inside now and those people who are still not comfortable sitting inside cause they’re older or at risk for things,” Avalos said.

Regardless of their stance, business owners say they’ll comply with the city’s decision to reopen Pine Avenue in hopes that crowds will continue to flock to the area.

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A stretch of Pine Avenue is set to reopen on June 18 and the full block is scheduled to open on June 30.