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Business Owner Describes Roller Coaster Ride Dealing With COVID-19 Regulations

A large sign directs patrons to Pecs Bar's outdoor dining area in North Park ...

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: A large sign directs patrons to Pecs Bar's outdoor dining area in North Park on October 30, 2020.

Pecs Bar in North Park has been catering to the LGBTQ community for decades.

Rosa Buettner owns the place, and she’ll be the first to tell you since the pandemic hit, it’s been a roller coaster ride of opening and closing, along with changes in regulations.

Listen to this story by John Carroll.

First, Pecs — like every other bar in California — was closed for about three months following the governor’s stay-at-home order.

When the bar was first allowed to reopen in June, Buettner said she spent about $8,000 on safety upgrades.

“We made all those changes here and also to the interior. That only lasted 2 weeks,” Buettner said.

Reported by John Carroll , Video by Roland Lizarondo

Closed again, with no revenue coming in. Then, about a month later came the news that bars could reopen as long as they served food.

“Then I thought ok, we have the space in the back, everything had to be outdoors, so we basically built an outdoor restaurant," Buettner said.

In that regard, Buettner was lucky. Unlike most bars that have had to transform space in the street, Pecs has this back area that was being used for employee parking.

Buettner had wanted to use it for outdoor bar space for years, but the city wouldn’t give her a permit, that is until the pandemic hit.

It took about 3 weeks to transform the parking lot into a restaurant.

Buettner said, “We became Pecs Al Fresco.”

Creating an outdoor kitchen meant running electricity, water and sewer lines. They had to buy new furniture… all of it an expensive venture.

“Just on the outdoor section, not counting the indoor, we spent probably $50,000.”

Now Buettner and her crew hope for the best week to week. If San Diego falls into the purple tier, the restaurant portion can stay open, but the bar itself will have to close, again.

“I don’t even care to make money, I just want to break even and keep my employees employed. That’s basically my goal," she said.

When I asked her, "Does it cause you sleepless nights?" Buettner replied, "Absolutely, absolutely.”

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John Carroll
General Assignment Reporter & Anchor

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI'm a general assignment reporter and Saturday morning radio anchor for KPBS. I love coming up with story ideas that aren't being covered elsewhere, but I'm also ready to cover the breaking news of the day. In addition, I bring you the local news headlines on Saturday mornings during NPR's Weekend Edition.

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