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San Diego Business Owners React To Less-Restrictive Orange Reopening Tier

Guests sit at tables inside of Social Tap, a restaurant with a patio inside o...

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: Guests sit at tables inside of Social Tap, a restaurant with a patio inside of Petco Park downtown, April 7, 2021.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

Wednesday was San Diego's first day in the state's less restrictive orange reopening tier. It means churches, museums, gyms, live events, amusement parks and restaurants can all increase capacity.

"It’s awesome," said City Tacos owner Gerald Torres. "We get to increase our capacity indoors by 25% [to 50%] and I think it gives consumers a little more confidence."

For this baseball season Torres is opening a new location just outside Petco Park in downtown San Diego, a project more than a year in the making.

"Basically was scheduled to open in March of last year then COVID hit," Torres said.

This year things are different. Fans are allowed in the stands at Petco park, and now that San Diego is in the state’s orange reopening tier the Padres can increase stadium capacity to 33%.

"There’s a lot of positive energy and positive attitude in our industry that things are opening back up that we can all get back to work make a living, support our families, support our staff," said Social Tap San Diego owner Brant Crenshaw.

RLEATED: Gov. Newsom Announces State To Reopen June 15 With Some Restrictions; Mask Mandate Still In Place

Social Tap is also located right next to Petco Park.

"I can’t wait until we get completely reopened up, but this isn’t a bad alternative," Crenshaw said referreing to the increase capacity under the orange tier.

He and others are also feeling a renewed sense of optimism, especially now that the governor has announced a target of June 15 to lift nearly all Covid-19 restrictions.

"It’s the first time that we would have a hard date to plan around," said Jes Pierce, one of the managers at Ale Tales Taproom. The eatery opened up just a couple of months before the pandemic hit, and being less than a half a mile from the ballpark in the East Village, Pierce is hoping to see some Padres fans.

"We miss people at the bar, we miss strangers meeting each other at the bar but it will eventually get back there," she said.

Even with the buzz, businesses owners said they have to gradually scale up operations.

"It’s still a slow process. People are gaining that confidence to go out and enjoy lunches and enjoy dinners and we have to grow with it," Torres said. "If you don’t, you’re numbers aren’t going to be right and you put the businesses in jeopardy."

While the increased capacity is certainly good news, California Restaurant Association President Jot Condie is estimating 30% of eateries statewide will shut their doors because of the pandemic.

"Everyday that goes by there’s restaurants that are on the edge and many of them fall off," Condie said. "So we fully expect in between now and June 15 there will be more restaurants that will have to throw in the towel."

Local businesses may also get a late night boost in the orange tier. Effective Wednesday, the county's 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants and bars was lifted.

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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