Restaurants Resign Themselves to Likely Extension of Stay-at-Home Order

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The likely extension this week of the state's stay-at-home order in San Diego County does not come as much of a shock.

The ICU numbers in the Southern California Region have not dramatically improved, and an extension of the order, hinted at a week ago, became more real Monday when California Gov. Gavin Newsom said it would likely be enacted on Tuesday

It's a rough reality for business owners to accept, and certainly not the ideal way to start fresh for the new year. Restaurant owners in Encinitas are asking themselves, How much take out can we take.?

"I think one of the biggest challenges is for our customers," Encinitas Fish Shop assistant manager Scott Johnson told NBC 7 on Monday. "They don't always know what is going on."

The North County eatery was more fortunate than other restaurants. It already had a successful takeout business when the pandemic hit, Johnson said.

"We had to make our adjustments, but we've been built for to-go orders for a while now," Johnson said.

Across the street at Goodonya, the $15,000 outdoor patio that was built specifically for distancing customers sits empty.

"It doesn't make any sense," owner Kris Buchanan said. "We are out and about everywhere, but we just can't sit on a patio six feet away."

Switching exclusively to takeout hasn't been as easy for Goodonya owner Kris Buchanan.

"You have to get an online menu going, make sure all of the modifications to log in are correct, figure out all new systems, and change your staff's pay," Buchanan said.

Before the pandemic, takeout made up 35-40% of Buchanan's business. Local loans and grants helped but aren't enough to fully bridge her businesses' shortfall, Buchanan said.

"Nothing has really come from the state that has been significant to help us, and at this point, we should have been smarter," Buchanan said.

No one yet knows what an extended stay-at-home order will look like, but the two Encinitas restaurants would at least like to be able to serve outdoors again.

"If someone sits out in this area, we're not going out of our way to stop them, because at the end of the day, it's outside," Johnson said.

Goodonya and the Encinitas Fish Shop are competing with other businesses along Highway 101 that are defying state health orders, which can be difficult to explain to customers at the Fish Shop who want to sit outside and eat, Johnson said.

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