(Photo Courtesy Thomas Smith/Gado)
City Center Bishop Ranch is a beautiful building, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and structured around a lovely central piazza with a lawn, as well as tables, chairs, and abundant shade trees. It’s also anchored by restaurants including Mendocino Farms, Delarosa pizza, ROAM artisan burgers, and the Slanted Door.
With lockdowns in place across California due to the Covid-19 pandemic, no restaurants at City Center are allowed to operate indoor dining, or to serve customers at outdoors tables. Until recently, however, City Center had allowed customers to picnic outdoors on the lawn, or to find areas around the center to sit on a bench and have a meal, as long as they stayed with their own household pod and remained socially distanced from others.
That policy appears to have changed, in favor of a much stricter policy regarding food. All eating of any kind now appears to be banned at the shopping center, or on any of the premises.
Signs were posted around the shopping center’s central lawn with text reading “In compliance with county health department requirements, please refrain from eating or gathering on the lawn or common areas at City Center Bishop Ranch.”
On a recent weekend, a security guard walked the grounds enforcing the rules. Several families who had set up to eat on the lawn or had begun to picnic on benches were asked to take their food elsewhere. Several noted that the popular San Ramon Farmer’s Market was taking place in City Center’s parking lot, and rules did not appear to be enforced at the farmer’s market.
The new rules were likely adopted in response to rising Covid-19 rates in Contra Costa County. Many restaurants in City Center have takeout or delivery service, but the impact of the new policy regarding picnicking remains to be seen.
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