One of San Diego's Oldest Restaurants Prepares For Increased Restrictions

The owner of a Bankers Hill landmark that has been in business since the 1940s said she'll likely have to make a few tough choices come Tuesday

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Another setback could be in store for businesses struggling through the pandemic. On Tuesday, the county finds out if San Diego will be placed back in the state's purple tier, which would ban indoor operations at many businesses.

Hob Nob Hill, in Bankers Hill, has been in business since 1944. Owner Tania Warchol told NBC 7 that she intends on it staying open for many more years but that it has been difficult to stay in compliance with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reopening plan.  

“It’s very scary," Warchol said. "You go to bed at night as an owner, thinking, ‘What’s going to happen tomorrow? How’s business going to be tomorrow? Who do we have to send home early?' Hob Nob Hill has been around for 76 years. World War II ended a year after this place opened. It’s a landmark. It’s a tradition.”

Warchol said she took ownership of the restaurant 26 years ago and promised the previous owner she wouldn’t modify the restaurant. She didn’t until the pandemic hit. She said she remodeled the space to improve the workers' ability to sanitize the space..

“Just to keep the people safe,” Warchol said.

But it wasn’t enough. San Diego County’s COVID-19 case rate has been pushing the region toward the state’s most-restrictive purple tier.

"The guidelines we're on now are very restrictive as they are," said Warchol in regard to operating in the red tier.  

Now, Warchol and her staff are preparing for outdoor dining only, anticipating the governor's decision to move the county into the purple tier on Tuesday.

“We don’t want to defy," Warchol said. "That’s not what we’re going to do. We’re going to comply, but I understand how restaurants are thinking they’re going to defy and that’s not our purpose. We’re law-abiding.”

Warchol said, however, that moving to the purple tier will slash capacity, employees and their hours, again.

“I’ve had people work for me for 20 years, so it’s been a real struggle for them,” Warchol said.

“Tips have dropped completely," said Fabiola Castillo, a manager who's worked with Warchol for more than two decades. "[Working outside] is a little harder. It hasn’t been easy, but at this point, this is what we have."

"There's been a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of tears, but in the long run, we have to do what the law says," Warchol said.

In order to move back to a less restrictive tier, the county must meet the state-approved metrics for at least three weeks.

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