It has been a lunchtime staple in Bakersfield for a century, with one frustrating detail. Parking problems have peeved patrons for years. It's no secret. If you eat lunch at Luigi's on a Friday, you better wear comfortable shoes. Finding a parking spot used to be difficult, with a good chance you had had to walk more than a few blocks.
If you are trying to squeeze into a tight parking spot after you have circled the block five times, it's a typical Friday at Luigi's in Old Town Kern.
"People are ready for the weekend, and it's one of our busiest days of the week," said Lanette Valpredo, Luigi's Restaurant.
Customers say there is only one word to describe parking Friday at Luigi's - impossible.
"It is like impossible. You have to park down the streets or I think I parked not in a parking spot but something close," said Nicole Rohatsch.
A close spot is hard to spot. "I'm very good at parallel parking, and it's always really sweet when I can get it in there really great," said Athena Collup.
Vernon Blackburn has been eating lunch at Luigi's on Friday for 20 years. "Sometimes I've had to park four or five blocks away. It's been so bad."
It is a problem that's become too big to ignore. "We figured why not open up our campus on the busiest day Luigi's has lunch and folks can come and park here for free. We thought why not a car wash for when they come to park," said Tim Calahan, Bakersfield Rescue Mission.
Now every Friday, you can park for free at the nearby Bakersfield Rescue Mission. The center has 60 parking spots. Plus, when you get back from lunch your car will be squeaky clean.
"We're asking for donations if folks want to donate. We have a one-year residential program and a lot of time they want to do recreation stuff, go to the movies, and they need money to go do that. We have a general fund for those kinds of things, and this money will go to that fund," continued Calahan.
"I think that's wonderful! I mean we end up hiking from all over the place. I think it's wonderful!" said Collup.
"If you can throw a few dollars to a good cause, I think it's a wonderful idea," continued Blackburn.