CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Restaurant owners said the pandemic has not been easy and now, come this weekend, they will be forced to adjust to more restrictions just to stay in business countywide.
Mangia Italiano on Third Avenue in Chula Vista is bracing for the big change yet again.
"As things are starting to get back to normal, we are going back 10 steps, and that is killing us,” said Adam Sparks, owner of Mangia Italiano.
Sparks and his wife have run the restaurant for 14 years, serving classic Italian dishes like spaghetti. He hopes customers will continue to get to-go orders and ideally pick them up themselves to save the restaurant on third-party delivery fees, which charge them nearly 30%.
The location is situated on Chula Vista's historic Third Avenue, riddled with restaurants and breweries. It's also seeing hair salons and clothing stores closing up shop for good.
"It's tough. It's been tough for a lot,” Sparks said.
But many aren't giving up.
“It's always a concern, just like everybody else, all the business owners, but we adjust,” said Erick Villar, bartender at El Cruce.
Rolling with the restaurant punches, in the South Bay, Baja-inspired seafood eatery El Cruce just opened October 16 despite the pandemic.
"We finally got it going forward, and we can't stop the wheels. [We] got to keep turning, you know. The community needs this type of business out here. We need something fresh. Now we're just riding the wave of keeping the business going,” Villar said.
Sparks has a painting of his wife inside the restaurant wearing a mask that reads "staying strong together.” His restaurant can seat up to 200 indoors, including a banquet room that was being used as a private dining room until the COVID-19 pandemic purple tier restrictions made indoor dining off-limits.
"This is killing us, man. Holidays are wonderful for us. We have two banquet rooms. Well that is not going to happen, but people can order catering trays,” Sparks said.
Sparks said he is grateful the City of Chula Vista has been helpful with securing parking and sidewalk space, as outdoor dining is no easy feat.
“The worst part about this going outside right now is that it's cold, so people have to dress warm and bundle up at night. It’s like we need shade and then we need heaters, and it's this variation of putting your diner outside on the sidewalk all the time," he said.