RAMONA, Calif. – A gym owner whose business was the first in San Diego County to be cited for violating the state’s COVID-19-related public health orders is back to take on a new venture.
In 2020, Ramona Fitness Center was cited for remaining open during stricter months. Any citations or charges the owner, San Nicholas faced were dropped and he managed to hang on to the gym despite roughly a 50% drop in business during the times he was closed.
“If I could do it again, I would’ve stood up earlier and I would’ve encouraged small businesses to do whatever they could to stay in business,” said Peter San Nicholas of Ramona Fitness Center. “It still has had an effect on our business, we still are not close to being recovered from that.”
Instead of being discouraged, his family opened Tropical Pineapples in Ramona, a smoothie and healthy snack spot.
“We decided to basically take whatever we had money-wise, and borrow, and put it into it because we needed to find another way to make an income,” said Nicholas.
Nicholas worked on opening Tropical Pineapples all while the gym continues to bounce back. He says since Ramona Fitness Center reopened last June, people have walked through the doors about 80,000 times and not a single case of COVID-19 has been tied back to the gym.
His new business is now also influenced by the needs of a community pushing through a pandemic.
“Dining indoors is fine now, but those that aren’t comfortable in grab and go you can order on the phone or online.”
You might think the year listed on the business logo is something he’d want to put behind him, instead San Nicholas says it’s a reminder of perseverance.
“So we’re not looking back 2020 as ‘established during COVID’,” said Nicholas. “Now it’s a new meaning for us.”