Return to indoor dining a welcome change in Little Italy, but some will wait a little longer


SAN DIEGO – Weeks after its implementation, restaurateurs in Little Italy nearly have al fresco dining down to a science. Almost so much so, some now are mixed on how to transition back indoors following Friday’s announcement by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“We kind of got used to it,” Barbusa co-owner Joey Busalacchi said. “We forgot about our indoors and now that the governor said you can open up indoors, it’s go time.”

Newsom and county public health officials gave the go-ahead Friday for area restaurants to return to indoor dining. Under the new guidelines, restaurants can hold indoor service at 25% capacity or 100 people, depending on which number is smaller.

Restaurants can begin moving in as early as Monday, officials say. Although some are ready to make the move, it won’t be an instant change for others.

“Especially the ones that have all their tables outside now have to maybe purchase some for their inside,” Busalacchi said.

Others such as Civico 1845 don’t want to risk it, with co-owner Dario Gallo noting that outdoor dining has been working well for them.

“We want to be safe 100% for our staff, for our guests, so we just decided at the beginning to stay outdoor only,” Gallo said.

In the wake of the months-long pandemic, neighborhoods like Little Italy have met the challenge with businesses repeatedly adjusting to shifting public health orders. But even as the county touts progress in managing the virus, restaurant owners still are urging guests to follow health guidelines.

“This all happened so fast and we just hope that it happens slow enough where we don’t go backwards,” Busalacchi said.

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