Day before reopening, Bankers Hill restaurant adjusts to indoor dining ban

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SAN DIEGO — Restaurants in San Diego County are left scrambling to adjust after officials ordered an end to indoor dining amid rising coronavirus cases.

Civico by the Park in Bankers Hill was preparing to reopen Tuesday for the first time since the pandemic hit. Employees were going through final training and preparation Monday when they heard the news, but say it wasn’t all that surprising.

“We honestly were expecting it because we saw what happened in the last week here in San Diego. We saw that the cases weren’t going down,” said co-owner Dario Gallo.

Gallo, who also co-owns Civico 1845 in Little Italy, says he was putting the final touches on reopening his second restaurant. He used the time it was shut down to rethink the concept and make it more casual, turning it into Civico by the Park. Little did he know he would be thrown a last-minute curve ball.

“We are reinventing, after reinventing, after reinventing. We were ready to open indoor and outdoor with all the new procedures,” said Gallo.

Gallo still has his staff trained and all those new procedures in place, but there will be a big chunk of possible revenue missing due to the new rule excluding indoor dining.

“The count is around 52 seats right now, so basically one third of the space,” said Gallo, who will still be utilizing some patio and outdoor space.

Even with reopening at a much smaller capacity than planned, Gallo is choosing to stay positive and relying on the support from the local community.

“Everyone has been stopping by, showing their love to us, and asking, ‘when are you opening?’ and saying, ‘I will be there for you guys.’ So this is what is actually convincing us to just open and do it no matter what.”

The Little Italy Association on Monday confirmed that beginning July 10, al fresco dining will now be expanded from only Saturdays to three days a week.

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