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San Diego is Buzzing: Orange Tier, Restaurant Week Helping Businesses Bounce Back

NBC San Diego logo NBC San Diego 4/13/2021 Lauren Coronado
a group of people sitting at a table eating food: Patrons dine at an outdoor restaurant along 5th Avenue in The Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, California on, July 17, 2020. © AFP via Getty Images

Patrons dine at an outdoor restaurant along 5th Avenue in The Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, California on, July 17, 2020.

San Diego has been buzzing over the past few weeks. Between moving into the less restrictive Orange Tier and San Diego Restaurant Week, business is picking up.

“It’s Monday! We thought it wouldn’t be crowded, but we don’t care. We’re listening to the music,” said Rhonda Buford, visiting from Memphis with her daughter.

“Why not come to the West Coast and hang out? so we ended up here,” added Buford’s daughter, Rachel King.

San Diego is a vacation destination on a lot of people’s lists right now. According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, for the week of March 28 to April 3, the county sold nearly 300,000 hotel night stays, a post-pandemic record, compared to 316,000 right before the state-wide lock-down.

“Everybody’s just out and about it’s a beautiful day,” said King.

Over the weekend, there were packed parklets, crowded sidewalks, and lines of people waiting to be seated at their favorite Little Italy restaurant.

“Obviously there’s more people, that’s the main thing, but it just feels different, it feels really good honestly,” said Jesse Rosenthal, Assistant Director of Operations at Farmer’s Table.

He’s been tracking the losses, and now the progress being made over the past year, including hiring 90% of their staff back, like Paloma Godinez.

“It’s totally a relief. We’re very happy,” said Godinez, who’s excited for a busy Restaurant Week. Farmer’s Table is offering a $40, three-course meal and Godinez said she’s ready to welcome new guests.

“December we were busy, but it wasn’t this crazy, now we have more tables, more people, I haven’t seen it this busy in a while,” said Godinez.

While the boost in business is encouraging, Rosenthal said there’s still a long road to recovery after a year of losses. He estimates it will take two years, minimum, to bounce back. But he also said Farmer’s Table Little Italy is off to a good start.

“Every day that we’re able to turn a profit, no matter how small it is, closes the gap and makes us feel a little bit better about the future,” said Rosenthal.

Restaurant Week goes through April 18.

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