SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Six weeks ago, San Diego County restaurants were allowed to re-open for dine-in service with restrictions, but the resent spike in COVID-19 cases in the region could lead to closures again or dial-backs - which could have a devastating impact on the industry.
Despite what’s looming ahead, local restaurant chain Puesto - known for gourmet tacos and margaritas - is opening its third San Diego location in Mission Valley.
Puesto Cervecería adjusted its dining area and is adhering to protocol measures to keep staff and guests safe and healthy. The new location sits on the former site of the Gordon Biersch brewpub restaurant, and underwent an $8 million renovation to create indoor and outdoor space that spans over 10,000 square feet.
The location, the largest of its size, has its own Mexican lager brewery and the largest tequila and mescal selection in San Diego. It will also feature a new menu item - the anticipated almond wood enchiladas.
“Excited to open, hopefully, this coming week,” said Jason Mitchell, Puesto Director of Strategy & Growth.
Puesto delayed opening the Mission Valley location due to COVID-19 restrictions and petitioned to reopen it’s San Diego locations in downtown San Diego at Headquarters and La Jolla.
Mitchell said they reopened its six locations in Southern California in just over five weeks.
“It’s been a wild ride. We've called unfamiliar circumstances, but we worked really hard to pivot and move forward,” said Lidiya Harvey Puesto Director of Brand Strategy.
Puesto Cervecería was designed to welcome 450 guests, but due to the recent COVID-19 restrictions, the restaurant will seat 150 guests, and its outdoor area will accommodate 60 guests.
“We are going to keep moving forward. We are going to make sure we going to adhere to all protocols. We are going above beyond,” said Harvey.
The possible shutdown or dial back could be devastating to the restaurant industry.
“It wasn't sustainable at 50%, and it's not sustainable with just outside dining or online curbside pick up. It's really bad,” said Jeff Rossman, President of the San Diego Chapter of the California Restaurant Association.
The Terra American Bistro owner said many restaurants spent $10,000 to $15,000 on inventory when they reopened six weeks ago.
“Now that we are going backward with the PPE money, OK we all got the loans but when the money runs out there must be customers to come in,” said Rossman.
On Thursday, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services reported eight of the ten new community outbreaks were traced to bars and restaurants.
“We knew that safety was a top priority and now to go backward it's devastating,” said Rossman.
While the unknown looms ahead, Puesto stated it hopes opening its restaurant will bring something for people to look forward to.
“We not only have fans counting us but employees too,” said Harvey.
Puesto Cervecería will open on Taco Tuesday, July 7 at 5010 Mission Center Road, San Diego, Ca. 92108.