Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach Welcomes Orange Tier

PB restaurants are encouraged about their summer prospects after the county ends curfew and the tier change expands indoor seating

NBC Universal, Inc.

Starting Wednesday, restaurants in San Diego County can increase their indoor capacity to 50% -- or 200 people -- whichever is fewer, thanks to county's shift to the orange tier.

On top of that, the county is lifting the 10 p.m. curfew, which has been in effect since last July. And on top of that, bars are back in business, permitted to reopen outdoors with safety modifications.

Before the pandemic, Pacific Beach was both a vacation and staycation destination. But b most accounts, purple- and red-tier restrictions made the boardwalk bar scene feel like a ghost town.

It's no wonder the change from red to orange has businesses seeing green.

Fat Fish Cantina's 2020 is a year Director of Operations Nicole May would rather soon forget. 

"The craziest year -- I've learned so much," May said. "We've gone from takeout to outside dining, 20% indoor, bar seating, no bar seating," May said.

May and her family also own and operate another PB restaurant, World Famous. Fewer restrictions in the orange tier could save their summer, she told NBC 7.

“Luckily now, people are very happy to go out, so our servers are benefiting from that," May said. "Tips are through the roof, so it's really excellent for them."

Across Garnet Avenue from Fat Fish, City Tacos is finally getting some traction.

The restaurant first opened a month before the pandemic closed it. 

"We never got to have the people here get to know us better," cashier Carlos Ramos said. "Hopefully this summer is going to keep going up."

Ramos said the county's decision to drop the 10 o'clock curfew will mean more people out at night.

While Fat Fish doesn't consider itself a bar, the county's decision to open outside seating at bars that don’t serve food will have benefits here too.

"With all the bars neighboring us, we'll have a lot more foot traffic, and that's great," May said.

May's restaurants and others are struggling to find more help to work in the kitchens, she said.

So far, unemployment pays well enough for some to stay home and avoid the risk of catching the virus, May said.

There is also the challenge of controlling larger crowds. 

"It's kind of scary," May said. "We're going to have to tweak some things."

Still, the prospect of Pacific Beach returning to a destination that people come from all over to visit is as enticing to those who make a living here as it is to those coming to enjoy it.

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