San Marcos Staff Give Small Business a Boost

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Wendy Shabay Bonneau

Urban Planner

When the restaurant K-Bop opened in downtown San Marcos this year just off the Texas State University campus, it had high hopes for success with its light Korean dishes and bubble teas. But the coronavirus pandemic forced the eatery, along with small businesses across the world, to quickly adapt to evolving restrictions to keep workers and customers safe.

Chance Sparks, a project manager with Freese and Nichols’ Urban Planning & Design Group in San Marcos, found a way to help. In late July, he led colleagues in building and installing a temporary sidewalk café for outdoor dining at the restaurant through the City of San Marcos’ temporary parklet program. The space, which includes solar-powered twinkle lights for atmosphere and plants for decoration, is anchored by tall yellow planters featuring chalkboards on the side so diners can leave inspiring messages.

“Research has shown that outdoor dining areas are safer than inside, and this will allow the restaurant to host more customers while complying with the city’s social-distancing and face-covering rules,” Chance said.

“We love living in San Marcos, and we want to give back,” he said. “Restaurants are in a tough business, and they’ve been hit especially hard by the pandemic. But they’re also a big part of what makes communities great and interesting. We hope we can inspire other groups to help small businesses struggling through COVID.”

Chance has a special understanding of the kinds of challenges cities face. Before joining Freese and Nichols, he was Assistant City Manager and Director of Planning for the City of Buda. He also is the current president of the American Planning Association Texas Chapter.

“Bonhyun Gu, K-Bop’s owner, has a great story to tell,” Chance said. “He’s a first-generation Korean-American whose dream was to share his culture with the community by opening a restaurant. This has been a huge challenge for him. Hearing his story just made me want to help him more.”

For more information about creative urban projects, contact Chance Sparks,, or another member of our Urban Planning + Design team.

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Wendy Shabay Bonneau, FAICP, leads a team of planners and landscape architects across multiple states. She is a Principal in our Fort Worth office.