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Chris Aitken

By Chris Aitken

Happy holidays from the San Clemente Downtown Business Association!

The SCDBA is proud to have been at the forefront of the initiative with our city to bring outdoor dining to downtown during the pandemic—with resounding success.

While the city asked the restaurants to remove outdoor dining areas on Nov. 15, the SCDBA has been contacted by numerous businesses in the restaurant, retail and service sectors to explore its continuance on a more permanent basis in 2022. 

Feedback from downtown businesses and residents suggests the outdoor dining program energized not only restaurants but also retail and service industries. Attracted by the charming atmosphere as a “dining destination,” diners also tended to spend more time downtown overall.

Outdoor dining brought an ambience and vibrancy to our downtown. With a climate to brag about, San Clemente is an ideal location to enjoy dining in the open air.

In addition, sales tax collected from downtown businesses exceeded the city’s expectations for 2021 and projections of 2022. Fees paid by restaurants for lease of outdoor space funded an extension into the fall months of the popular free trolley service—making our downtown more accessible to shoppers and diners alike.

The city plans to explore whether outdoor dining should return in 2022 and beyond, and, for the reasons mentioned, the SCDBA is in support of exploring more permanent solutions that take all perspectives into account.

Do you support outdoor dining in the downtown area? The SCDBA would love to hear your thoughts. Drop us an email at  

Mark your calendars, as the SCDBA is excited to bring you two events over the coming months.

“Shop Small Saturday” is held annually the first Saturday after Thanksgiving on Nov. 27. Kicking off the holiday shopping season, we encourage you to “love local, and shop small.”

Many SCDBA member retailers will be giving away free San Clemente canvas tote bags to early shoppers (while supplies last).

Puttin’ on the Glitz—part of San Clemente’s Santa’s Village by the Sea—is a beloved annual holiday event along Avenida Del Mar taking place on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 4. Come enjoy a fun and festive evening of late-hours shopping, festive dining, twinkling lights, holiday carolers, and live music to delight all ages.

Avenida Del Mar will close to traffic at 3 p.m. to set up for the two events. If you are a merchant, nonprofit, sports team or school club wanting to join the fun, or a business wanting to sponsor these cherished events, please visit us at  

Finally, welcome your weekend at the San Clemente Village Art Faire on Saturday, Dec. 11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Village Art Faire, in its new location on the shady lawns at the SC Library and Community Center, brings talented local artists in various trades together to display their handcrafted work.

Visit us at to learn more. The Village Art Faire will resume the first Saturday each month in 2022, welcoming the New Year with our first show on Saturday, Jan. 1. 

On behalf of the San Clemente Downtown Business Association, we wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season. San Clemente, we continue to encourage you to support our unique locally owned businesses by shopping and dining locally. We’ll see you downtown!

Chris Aitken is the chairman of the Board of the San Clemente Downtown Business Association. Chris is also involved with two businesses in the downtown area, including being the co-owner of H.H. Cotton’s restaurant and a partner of the personal injury law firm Aitken Aitken Cohn.

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