“I never thought I would see anything like this,” Eric Sarcisian said.
The executive chef at Backyard Kitchen & Tap was standing in a makeshift dining area in Pacific Beach that used to be the parking lot of a Denny’s next door.
“It’s been a year of whiplash,” Sarcisian said as he thought about 2020 and this year’s Super Bowl. “It’s a weird time, man.”
Sarcisian said they call the outdoor eating area Sideyard. It allows them to serve even more customers while maintaining a safe distance.
“You’re going to be in your own little bubble out here,” Sarcisian said with a smile and a sigh at the same time.
Sarcisian said the restaurant’s owner spent thousands of dollars to create the space so that people could be safe, spaced apart and outside. He said it’s important for the Super Bowl, which might as well be a holiday for the restaurants that cater to sports fans. He admitted this Super Sunday's turnout may not match previous crowds.
“Just from what I see industrywide, it’s probably 40% down, half of what it was,” Sarcisian said.
San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher told NBC 7 on Friday that he doesn’t want the county to take a step back in terms of infections like it did during the holidays.
“Hey, if folks want to stay open, we gotta be safe,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said that he would prefer everyone to watch the game at their own home.
“We saw what happened at Thanksgiving," Fletcher said. "Thanksgiving put a hurt on us as a region because folks gathered indoors. We’re so close to getting where we need to go and we’re in the right direction. We can’t throw it away for one Super Bowl.”
Fletcher said people who do venture out should make sure they follow social distancing rules and wear a mask. He wouldn’t venture a guess on the county’s COVID-19 numbers as a result of this upcoming weekend.
“Come on, San Diego. Let’s do this one right!” Fletcher cheered as if the game had already started.
“Just one foot in front of the other, man," Sarcisian said. "That’s my philosophy."
Sarcisian sees restaurants like Backyard plugging along, hoping one day there will be a normal crowd. Nevertheless, he’s looking forward to Sunday.
“Just as amazing, pandemic or not, man," Sarcisian said. "It’s going to be great fun.”