Nearly 20% of staff at Ramona restaurant out due to COVID


RAMONA, Calif. – A recent spike in COVID-19 cases due in part to the highly contagious omicron variant has forced challenges new and old on businesses in San Diego County.

Take The Barn in Ramona where nearly 20% of the restaurant’s staff currently are out because of COVID.

“We are starting to get a lot of people calling out (for) testing positive,” owner Vito Tutino said.

The dining and dancing establishment delayed its grand opening in 2020 amid the outset of the pandemic. Tutino, who’s been in the restaurant industry for more than 40 years, finally opened The Barn last year when public health restrictions started easing up.

“We were allowed to open for to-gos,” he said, “but it just wasn’t the way you were going to make a first impression by opening a restaurant of this caliber and then offer to-gos or dine in the parking lot.”

Tutino says most of his staff are fully vaccinated, but they’re still struggling to stay healthy. The labor shortage due to COVID hasn’t been a unique issue for The Barn or most other industries in the community as the pandemic surges on.

“Some had been lucky enough shadow past this but others have been pretty hard with it,” he said. “Some in the Bankers Hill area that have actually closed. They anticipate staying closed for two weeks waiting throughout the duration of quarantine. Hopefully their staff gets better.”

The Barn also has had to deal with a number of live entertainment cancellations. Prior to the Christmas holiday, one band canceled its scheduled performance after a member of the band tested positive. But The Barn is scheduled to have Nashville country artist Matt Farris perform there Friday and Saturday.

Both concerts begin at 8:30 p.m. and attendees must pay a $15 cover to see the show.

Tutino hopes residents can show up for the concert and still enjoy the live entertainment.

“We are excited about having him here,” Tutino said. “More so, we are hoping that we have a lot of people that come and watch him and be entertained by him.”

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