SAN DIEGO — As of this week, outdoor dining is the only option for restaurants in San Diego County and businesses are doing everything they can to get creative.
Restaurants are also getting some extra help in Little Italy, where al fresco dining has been increased from one to three nights a week.
“We are fortunate enough that we are in a neighborhood as well as a tourist center,” said Joey Busalacchi, manager at Barbusa.
It’s that mix of local love and out-of-town interest that makes Little Italy a hot spot on almost any given night of the week. The pandemic slowed a lot of that traffic down and a stop to indoor dining threatened to further hurt the restaurants.
“We knew it was coming, unfortunately we knew it,” said Busalacchi.
Barbusa is just one of many adapting on what seems like a weekly basis whether it be mobile menus, pre-packaged table settings or creating additional seating in an adjacent parking lot.
The Little Italy Association originally helped get al fresco dining started on Saturdays, but the days have now been extended to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to help bring people to the area working within the health guidelines.
People like Raul Gonzalez, who works with the Little Italy Association to do maintenance in the neighborhood, are also present throughout the evenings to offer free masks for anyone who needs them.
“I say, ‘would you like a mask?’ Typically they’ll get conscious about it and they put it on most of the time,” said Gonzalez.
Strolling along India Street, people will also see hand sanitizer stations and signs with plenty of reminders so this experience can carry on if everyone does their part.
“We just roll with the punches, get as many people as we can in the safest possible way we can and that’s all we can do. Hopefully everybody abides by the rules and we can continue to do this al fresco dining in Little Italy,” said Busalacchi.
The hours for al fresco dining in Little Italy begin at 3:30 p.m. on Fridays and 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and run through 10 p.m.