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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Dine Diego is a reimagined Restaurant Week

Instead of the traditional Restaurant Week, Dine Diego kicks off a month-long showcase of local eateries.

LEMON GROVE, Calif. — In a place of a traditional Restaurant Week, San Diego’s Chapter of the California Restaurant Association is cooking up something special.

Tuesday marked the start of Dine Diego, a month-long showcase of some of the tastiest restaurants in America’s Finest City.

This year there are precautions in place due to COVID-19.

“[It's] showcasing all the different ways that restaurants are being creative to get through these times,” said Kristina Owenburg, San Diego Chapter Manager, California Restaurant Association.

One restaurant that is adapting is Giardino Neighborhood Cucina, a hidden gem in Lemon Grove.

“It's a wonderful marvelous place and I've loved it since it started,” said Morgan McGregor, customer.

Chef Mark Provino and wife Karina Kravalis, opened the Italian restaurant in 2017 on Broadway in Lemon Grove. They brought a new taste with modern, rustic but cozy décor to East County.

“She really brought something nice to Lemon Grove,” said Keith Lackey, customer.

New customers and regulars can’t get enough of their wine pairings and fresh pastas.

“Now we are regulars. I called my girlfriends, 'we got to meet there.' They have wine Wednesday half price,” said Loretta Brady, customer.

From visiting unassuming neighborhoods to trendy streeteries customers are vital in supporting the restaurant industry.

“This doesn't just affect the owners and servers but it goes back to the farmers and the suppliers,” said Owenburg.

To support them during the pandemic, overcoming the closures, lack of work, job losses, capacity limits, Dine Diego is cooking up a new experience inviting San Diegans to dine al-fresco, dine to-go, Dine Diego! 

Restaurant Week waived membership and registration fees and more than 300 eateries are participating in the Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 event.

Giardino expanded its patio in the back to the front of the house overnight.

“We will succeed, we will be stronger, and we will they through this and we will be better for it,” said Justin Rutland, bartender.

Supporting restaurants is not only feeding workers and their families but also nurturing customers during the pandemic.

“We’ve been coming here for the past year and if it wasn't for this place I don't know what would get us through COVID-19,” said Brady.

Restaurant Week is offering a social media contest where you can win a free year of dining by posting a picture with #52weeksofDineDiego they also have a game with a downloadable bingo card. Click here for details and also to see what restaurants are participating. You can search by neighborhood or by the type of food.

News 8 spoke with some local chefs about this unique program.