For months now, it’s been ridiculously easy most days to get a lunchtime parking spot in Old Town Square.
First it was fun, but then came the sinking feeling: What’s happening with Old Town?
“People walk in and say, ‘What’s going on?’ ” restaurateur Melad Stephan says.
He says it’s all good, though.
Stephan led a yearlong charge, with an assist from others in the area, to get the city to put a two-hour limit on the parking spaces.
“All those parking spots are full by 9 o’clock, and we’re not even open yet,” Stephan says of places such as his Sabor Latin Bar & Grille and other restaurants and shops on the square.
The problem, he says, was employees at those businesses had been parking in the front-row spaces all day.
He says some of those people also are his customers, and he didn’t want to make anyone mad, but the lack of spaces was keeping others away.
“It took me a while to figure it out,” Stephan says of how the businesses were empty but the spaces were full.
The city has been vigilant about monitoring the parking, Stephan says.
“They don’t cut you any slack.”
There’s one parking monitor in particular who is “a little bit serious about her job,” Stephan says.
“I even got a ticket for parking there more than two hours,” he says. “I said, ‘I deserve it.’ ”
He has a little extra money to pay it, too.
“Our lunch (business) has jumped at least 15 percent,” Stephan says. “It helps a lot.”