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The Challenges of SoCal Restaurants Opening during COVID-19

Restaurants are some of the hardest-hit businesses in the COVID-19 pandemic. With much less enthusiasm about eating out and a tense atmosphere that has not yet dissipated, restaurant owners are struggling to stay open and make enough money.
Even more difficult than sustaining a restaurant that is already off the ground is opening a new one. Still, the world keeps spinning and some are planning for a world after the virus is under control and Southern Californians can return to their beloved practice of eating out. The following are some restaurants that have opened during the pandemic and what they have to do to succeed.

Ember & Rye
Located in Carlsbad, Ember & Rye had two-weeks of 100 reservations per night booked before it opened. Helmed by Top Chef celebrity chef Richard Blais, this steakhouse has a diverse menu with beef tartare, caviar and fish-shaped pancakes, radishes covered in white chocolate, and a wood-fire grill for a variety of meats. The highly sought-after restaurant in the Park Hyatt has been exciting San Diegans, but as the initial excitement wanes the restaurant will have to face the pandemic slump like the others. Opening a new establishment is a great way to spark interest, but it’s unclear whether it will be enough.

Da Nang Corner
San Diego’s newest Vietnamese restaurant Da Nang offers authentic Central Vietnamese cuisine. The food from the city of Hue is famous and they are showcasing dishes like bun bo hue, the spicy noodle soup that includes blood cake and various beef parts. Another dish they serve is mi quang, which is a rice noodle plate typically served with shrimp or pork, peanuts, and herbs. While there are challenges for every restaurant during the pandemic, opening the doors to an authentic Vietnamese restaurant is always a risk because few people are familiar with the cuisine beyond pho and banh mi.

Modern Times’ Leisuretown
Up in Anaheim, Modern Times opened up their beer and vegan food utopia just as the pandemic was ramping up. Fully equipped with open air seating, a pool, and a delicious menu, the brewers ended up with a great outdoor location where people can go drink some delicious high-end beers and eat plant-based carne asada fries. While not intended for a virus-stricken world, the establishment has managed to thrive.

L’Atelier de Paris
You won’t want to miss the new Parisian-themed pastry shop in Encinitas. L’Atelier de Paris serves freshly baked croissants, chocolate brioche, eclairs, macarons, tarts, and cakes. The bistro doesn’t just offer sweets, however, they have an extensive menu that includes savory crepes, eggs, salads, sandwiches, and more. With the option to grab some pastries or sit down to eat, this establishment has an upper hand during the pandemic because people love to grab a box of treats.

Fable & Spirit
A great spot for craft cocktails and delicious food, Fable & Spirit in Newport Beach has an amazing atmosphere and a wide array of meats, seafood, and vegetables. It also has Irish-inspired décor, with portraits of Celtic goddesses. While the food isn’t particularly Irish, they serve a range of pan-European delicacies that includes cracked pepper bucatini, clams, baby turnips, prime rib, and Alaskan halibut. Whether you want to share with your family or order individual main dishes, Fable & Spirit is the perfect place to eat and drink. However, as a high-end restaurant, it will have challenges that others don’t because the economy is suffering and people have less money than before.

Getting Through the Pandemic
One thing restaurants need to do to thrive during the pandemic is marketing. One way to do that is to manage restaurant guest expectations during COVID-19. If you promote your business in the way that gets people in the door while informing them how you are operating during the pandemic, you’ll have happy customers leaving and coming back. How a restaurant is faring during the pandemic will greatly impact their patronage. If the atmosphere is pleasant, the service remains good, and the food is well-prepared, restaurants can survive this dip in business and work towards coming out of this better than ever.

There are many challenges for restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are ways to get through this and thrive. When people feel comfortable and happy at your restaurant, people will flock there, at the end of the day San Diegans are still constantly in search of things to do during COVID-19 and eating out safely is high on many people’s favorite activities list. If restaurants do the extra work, people will remember it.