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Ripon restaurants, stores go outside to serve customers
downtown dining
Pizza Plus and The Ice Cream Emporium are among the local businesses to make use of the City of Ripon’s temporary outdoor operation permits.

The outdoor scene in Ripon has been enjoying a nice boost as of late.

And that’s with the recent poor air quality notwithstanding.

Some of the businesses have taken advantage of the City of Ripon’s temporary outdoor operation permits, which were recently put in place to help out during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had a couple of submit their permit applications,” said Planning Director Ken Zuidervaart at the Aug. 11 Ripon City Council meeting.

The permits come at zero cost, he added.

“This enhances our downtown and our local businesses,” said Cassandra Parafox, who is the Marketing & Events Coordinator for the Ripon Chamber of Commerce.

Along downtown Main Street, Pizza Plus and The Ice Cream Emporium were among the early applicants for the outdoor operations permit. On most days, people of all ages often take advantage of the sidewalk seating at both businesses.

“We’re grateful to have outside dining,” said Ice Cream Emporium GM Katie Willey, who noted that the past few days due to the poor air quality and hot weather.

Overall, she indicated that customers are enjoying the arrangement. “It gives them a sense of normalcy,” said Willey.

She added that the Ice Cream Emporium now has outdoor music playing Disney or Ragtime to further enhance the outdoor ambience.

On the other side of the street, about a half-block over, Taqueria Ripon El Molcajete, Las Casuelas Mexican Restaurant & Bar, and The Vault share an outdoor area protruding into the front parking spaces, with people braving the smoky air to enjoy al fresco dining on an early Thursday evening.

The Chamber recently applauded the efforts of Austin Coffee Crafters and The Vine House for their creativity of sharing an outdoor seating area in the Ripon Terrazza Shopping Center at 222 W. Ripon Road – patrons at Austin Coffee occupy the space during regular business hours from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and folks at The Vine House, open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., will take over from there.

Parafox added that eateries at the Save Mart Shopping Center – included are Happy Indian Kitchen, Masumi and Country Skillets – on West Colony Road and Goodwin Drive also feature outdoor seats.

“We’re encourage people to support our local businesses,” she said.

The Chamber, in addition, set up a list of takeout and curbside restaurants in town on social media (Facebook and Instagram) and at