Local eatery thankful for boost from customers after staying open for Thanksgiving

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LEMON GROVE, Calif. – Local restaurants that chose to stay open on Thanksgiving welcomed a temporary burst of extra business for the holiday.

Eateries such as Giardino Neighborhood Cucina in Lemon Grove opted to serve customers Thursday after being closed for Thanksgiving in past years. This year’s holiday comes in the midst of a worsening global pandemic punctuated by a surge in coronavirus infections in San Diego County which recently caused the county to drop down into California’s most restrictive reopening tier.

Amid a year that has deeply challenged restaurateurs of many stripes, Giardino owner Karina Kravalis said “this year I decided I could use every single day to generate some kind of revenue.”

This year, that also includes Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, and New Year’s Day, she said.

Early returns Thursday were strong for the restaurant. Although purple tier restrictions removed the option of indoor dining, its two outdoor seating areas — in conventional Turkey Day fashion — were lively with conversation, warm company and good food.

Giardino recently crossed its three-year anniversary since opening. After some difficult months, Kravalis said she’s thankful for customers who dined and ordered out locally.

“When we were shut down, we focused on a lot of takeout so we developed our big clientele on takeouts and deliveries, and we’ve been doing that ever since,” she said.

More than 100 families were fed takeout Thanksgiving dinners Thursday at the restaurant. In the evening, customers showed up in force to dine at the establishment

“It’s really exciting and we are glad that we have customers that support us and we were able to prepare delicious meals,” Kravalis said.

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