Desmond proposes program to help restaurants bounce back


SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond on Monday proposed a program that would extend a lifeline to local restaurants by allowing businesses to offer reimbursable meal discounts.

Desmond says the program has been successful in the United Kingdom, leading to a more than 200% increase in business for restaurants.

“I think this is a good opportunity for our businesses, particularly the restaurant industry … back on their feet again. And sooner rather than later,” Desmond said.

Under the “Dine-Out and Help-Out” program, customers would receive 50% off their meals, or up to $10 per person. Restaurants would then be reimbursed the full amount.

Restaurants were among the hardest hit industries. According to the San Diego Association of Governments, restaurants were among the hardest hit early in the pandemic during the first week in April 2020, with foot traffic down between 60% and 77%. As of January 2021, with the San Diego region in the purple tier, activity at various businesses remained down, between 26% to 61% percent below pre-COVID-19 level.

“His heart is to help the small businesses and to support our communities,” said Michael Mitsoglou, vice president of franchise operations of Broken Yolk Café.

“We’ll probably make it but there are some businesses that aren’t going to make it,” said Janis Deady, owner of Oggi’s Sports Brewhouse Pizza in Del Mar. “And there are some employees that aren’t going to make it. And it’s this type of program, just $10, $10 from the government that will help.”

Desmond’s proposal is set to be voted on by the Board of Supervisors June 5. The program would target a restaurant’s slower days: Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

A total of $50 million would fund the program through American Rescue Plan Act funding.

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