La Mesa

Staying Positive During the Pandemic: Local Restaurant Shares Story

Restaurant owners have been constantly switching things up to meet safety guidelines during COVID-19, and all those changes can get a little overwhelming. A popular family-owned restaurant in the East County shared its story with NBC 7 on how they’re all staying positive through the pandemic

a customer at DZ Akins

D.Z. Akins in La Mesa is celebrating its 40th anniversary, a joyous occasion stained by months of changes amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the owners of the popular mom-and-pop shop are finding a way to stay positive through it all.

The large restaurant is made up of a gift shop, deli, fresh pastry counter and restaurant, so it took some creativity to make sure social distancing is in place.

The owner, Elan Akin has had to switch things up quite a bit over the last six months, at one point moving their whole restaurant into the parking lot.

It was also an adjustment for the staff at the start of the pandemic because the employees are like a family, Akin said. The staff knows their customers personally and is used to interacting with them during visits -- something the pandemic made less viable.

But D.Z. Akins has adjusted, adding more and more safety measures throughout the pandemic, from plexiglass in between tables to more outdoor seating and to disinfecting menus.

Akin told NBC 7 they've actually learned a lot along the way and they've been pretty surprised at how well some changes have worked for them.

“The rules changing all the time it has definitely allowed us to get creative and think outside of our normal comfortable box.," Akin said. "We have moved outside, moved back inside, done a version of both. In a way we’re happy that we never knew that we could be an outdoor restaurant."

It's also been important for D.Z. Akins to maintain their staff and the restaurant has kept almost all of their staff employed, meaning they can keep money in their pockets and food on their tables.

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