Diners flock to Pasadena, only LA County city allowing outdoor dining during Thanksgiving

Diners flocked to Pasadena from all over the Southland for their modified Thanksgiving celebrations, taking advantage of the city’s decision to continue to allow outdoor dining despite the Los Angeles County public health order banning it. 

“We’re currently not seeing family - we’re social distancing - and we don’t want to stay home alone so we made the trek from Beverly Hills to Pasadena, and it’s so nice that restaurants are still open here,” said travel and food blogger Pollin Farzin, who celebrated both her 30th birthday and Thanksgiving at Il Fornaio in Old Town. “It was nice to have a celebration outside and being with people and feeling the warmth of others, as well.”

Il Fornaio’s General Manager Daiano Morassi said he is grateful that the restaurant was allowed to stay open so that both long-time customers and new ones could experience one of its storied traditions. 

“We’ve been doing Thanksgiving for many years, and we are a place where people get together. Where people come because the ambiance is nice, because the food is simple but very well done, and because the service is friendly and professional,” he said.

The restaurant is taking every possible precaution to keep guests safe - including staffing two people just to disinfect surfaces. 

“They go around with a cloth and a rag and a sanitizing spray bottle, and we just sanitize everything you can possibly touch from the chair to the table, from the handles of the doors of the bathrooms and everything,” he said. “Il Fornaio has been in this town for over 25 years. We are a family restaurant. We want our customers to feel safe and to feel good about coming out.”

Other open restaurants along Colorado Boulevard like Mi Piace saw a steady stream of diners, with most tables taken throughout the night. 

“We decided to go out and just be us four this year. Very different from previous years,” said Louisa Prouty, who traveled with her family from West Covina to take advantage of Pasadena’s outdoor dining option. They would normally be celebrating with a large group of extended family. 

“It’s important - we’re all happy just to be out, and the weather’s been good. And the restaurant was good, the food was good,” said Louisa’s husband Rudy. Their son Spencer added, “It’s refreshing - it’s good to get outside more, especially when we’re in school for four hours online.”

Pasadena is one of two cities in LA county with its own health department, which allowed it to defy the county’s orders.

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