Cinco de Mayo holiday offers needed boost for downtown businesses


SAN DIEGO — People have extra reasons to celebrate this Cinco de Mayo as pandemic restrictions have relaxed enough to dine inside or outside, and even go to bars without having to order food.

The holiday was in full swing downtown, even if it fell on a Wednesday.

“I think that every week is a little bit busier than the previous,” said Rob Vetere, general manager at Volcano Rabbit, a Latin American street food and cocktails restaurant on Fifth Avenue. “We’ve noticed that we can look at the numbers and see sales have increased, covers have increased so there’s just more bodies out there.”

The restaurant, known for serving up tacos and tequila, timed its reopening one week before the holiday. It had been closed since last March due to the lack of conventions downtown.

They also didn’t have an outdoor space to accommodate guests.

“There’s not as much foot traffic, so just didn’t make sense for us to try and capture a crowd that we didn’t believe was here for doing takeout or delivery,” Vetere said.

While they bounce back, a few blocks away near Petco Park, City Tacos’ new location now is open. The day also was a significant one for the taco shop, being its seventh anniversary.

“We were doing soft openings around the games — you can hear the game right now,” manager Adan Montaño said. “It’s been good.”

With fans in the stands again, Padres games are bringing more foot traffic to the area.

The Gaslamp Quarter closing off Fifth Avenue to cars a few nights a week also has contributed to getting a lot business going again, Vetere said.

“Whether it’s the increase vaccination rates in California or just overall people traveling from other areas that are close, San Diego has been pretty compliant and we have done a good job making people feel safe,” he said.

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