In an apparent admission of unfair treatment for businesses downtown, a political functionary of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says he is now coming to the rescue of other downtown Anchorage restaurants.
Berkowitz had come under withering criticism for helping certain restaurants survive under the mayor’s lockdown of establishments, but not helping others. The perceived crony capitalism made it to the Tucker Carlson Tonight show on Fox on Wednesday.
Andrew Halcro, who runs EasyPark, now says he will personally help other restaurants design “cool curbside seating. Hit me up at @easyparkalaska.com.”
Halcro has served in the capacity of being in charge of downtown since Berkowitz took office over five years ago. He runs the Anchorage Community Development Authority. Food trucks and a rooftop basketball court on a parking garage have been his signature achievements, while the departure of Nordstrom has been his signature failure.
This quick marketing move to help other restaurants indicates the mayor and Halcro have had a conversation and decided that rather than being arbitrary and capricious in helping a handful of restaurants, they need some political cover, if after the fact.
Halcro came up with a name for it: “Operation Downtown Dine-Out.” What it amounts to is that Halcro is offering to consult with other restaurants and help them come up with outdoor dining.
All week, Halcro has been the mayor’s point-of-the-spear in hitting back at critics, specifically at Must Read Alaska, who said shutting down G Street in order to help one of Berkowitz’ business partners was showing favoritism to his own network of restaurant business interests.
Must Read Alaska has learned that other restaurants in the city are struggling with the city getting permits so they can establish outdoor seating. Some have given up, while others are openly defying the mayor and continuing to open their doors every day.
They said they didn’t have time to respond after the shutdown orders came on Friday, closing them down starting on Monday. Several said Berkowitz didn’t give them time to clear out their inventory. Others said if they shut down this time, it would kill them off for good.
Before the latest shutdown, through Halcro and the Downtown Partnership, Berkowitz had closed down G Street so Crush, a wine bar, could have its own street dining area.
They are calling their plan the “Open Street” plan, but it actually closes streets down, specifically portions of F and G Streets.
Anchorage weather is cool in August, with evening temperatures often dipping into the low 50s. Outdoor dining in Alaska isn’t for everyone, especially in late August as the sun begins to wane.
Meanwhile, the Berkowitz Administration continues his battle against Kriner’s Diner and other restaurants in midtown, racking up $600 a day against those who stay open for indoor dining.
In addition to Kriner’s, Wings and Things, Jackie’s Place, and Little Dipper Diner have defied the mayor’s orders and opened for business.
The injunction hearing against Kriner’s Diner by the Berkowitz Administration began at noon in court today, but ended early after judge Josie Garton recused herself from the case.
The lawsuit the Berkowitz Administration filed against Kriner’s will be reassigned to a new judge, with hearing likely on Friday.