SAN DIEGO – Just days after local restaurants got the go-ahead to reopen for dine-in service, one already has reversed course with its owner saying it became too challenging to enforce social distancing guidelines while facing long lines of customers.
Menya Ramen owner Takashi Endo said his two San Diego restaurants are open only for delivery service for the foreseeable future. Endo briefly reopened this week for dine-in customers following a state decision to accelerate San Diego County’s reopening effort, primarily for dine-in restaurants and retail stores.
But Endo’s restaurants quickly were overwhelmed with lines of people waiting for to-go orders along with the customers showing up to dine-in.
He looks forward to the day they can get back to dine-in being their main method of service.
The Memorial Day weekend saw lines and crowds of people returning to restaurants after months of closures and take-out only service. Endo’s challenge is one many restaurants are dealing with.
“It’s been a little hectic,” said Sydni Whitaker, who manages Firehouse American Eatery & Lounge in Pacific Beach. She says the tricky part of reopening is educating customers about new restrictions.
“A lot of the guests coming in, they don’t understand the county regulations that have been put on us so they’re a little confused,” Whitaker said. “They don’t know when to wear a mask, when not to wear a mask, they unsure of why we’re telling them to arrive as one group together and get seated together.”
Working in the favor of restaurants are the many customers who are doing their part to follow the rules and be understanding of what restaurant workers are dealing with. In spite of challenges, many are grateful to see small changes as they come.
“Inching towards normal feels amazing,” she said.