SAN DIEGO — Drive down Third Avenue in Chula Vista and the revitalized business districts with shops, brew pubs and restaurants are closed, only a few restaurants remain open.
La Bella’s Pizza Garden opened in 1950, the owner says since the dine-in ban, he had to cut half his workforce and comparing an average Saturday to this past Saturday, business was down nearly $15,000.
“The real impact is that our dining room is closed, and half our staff has been set off into a waiting period,” said Tony Raso, La Bella’s owner.
Stories like La Bella’s and thousands of other small restaurants are struggling during the coronavirus shutdown.
“In times like these we have to support these small businesses. I grew up in Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, I’ve been coming to La Bella’s all my life,” said customer, Chris Manning.
The national movement called the Great American Takeout started on Tuesday to encourage people to order takeout, delivery or pickup while still maintaining social distance. Health officials say the risk of transferring the virus by takeout is very low risk.
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“It’s national support the small business day,” said Manning.
Down the street at The Nutrition Place, a health option remains open for pickup.
“We all enjoy our food and reward meals as we call them but making sure that we stay healthy, so we come out on the other side of this and remain active and feeling great,” said Mario Olmos, The Nutrition Place club operator.
The California Restaurant Association says around 60% of restaurants in San Diego County have closed during the coronavirus. Thousands of jobs have been lost. La Bella’s driver says the dough is in the deliveries.
“If anyone is looking for a job they are out there probably deliveries,” said Steve Shaw.
It’s unclear how long the governor’s stay at home order will last and how it will impact the restaurant industry, “I think for a couple more weeks, I hope,” said Raso.
But it could even be longer and anything to help out the small business is appreciated.
“We are super grateful for anyone that comes by or walks by,” said Olmos.
The South County Economic Development Council is offering a no-interest loan to eating establishments in South County in order to provide some economic relief during these difficult times. This small infusion of funds is intended to assist South County small restaurants to remain open and continue to provide meals during this national emergency. South County EDC will provide a one-time $5,000 no-interest loan with repayment due on April 1, 2021. At that time the entire loan amount will be due. It is anticipated that a total of 50 loans will be provided. To apply click here