Local business owners anxious to reopen are now voicing concerns and frustration over government timelines and safe reopening plans.
And to add further to the anxiety, many restaurants are facing uncertainty over their supply chains, in light of the coronavirus outbreaks that have shut down meat processing plants in other parts of the country.
“The anxiety level has been tremendous,” said Phil Pace, 59, owner of Phil’s BBQ.
Pace has been forced to close his four restaurants in San Diego county, though two remain open for take-out orders. He says he was forced to close on March 19th, and has since lost close to $5 million. He says his Rancho Bernardo restaurant loses $10,000 a day. He had to furlough 400 employees.
Pace stood alongside San Diego City Councilmember Scott Sherman and other pro-business politicians at a press conference in downtown San Diego calling on the government to move more quickly towards reopening the economy.
“I urge the [San Diego] County Board of Supervisors to begin immediate work so our region can move more quickly through phase two and open more businesses,” said Sherman.
The coalition also urged Governor Gavin Newsom to give local counties and municipalities more power to amend stay at home orders. Newsom is currently following California’s Roadmap to Modify the Stay-at-Home Order, which will allow the state to slowly reopen in phases once key criteria is met.
Pace has started to prepare for reopening his restaurants, though he says guidelines still are not clear.
“[Restaurant owners] just can’t turn that key in the front door and let the people in. There’s so much for them to do to be prepared,” said Pace.
Pace, who has been in business in San Diego for more than 22 years, is still determining how to safely re-open his restaurant.
“My biggest thing is keeping things safe, making sure people are comfortable, making sure that everybody has their protective masks, making sure the distance is correct, making sure we’re cleaning things properly,” said Pace.
He says another concern is the supply chain. He says he spends more than $10 million annually to supply his restaurants with proteins – beef, chicken, and pork. He expects that price to increase as the coronavirus impacts meat processing plants.
“The inventory has to be out there, but the challenge will be getting it here. It’s getting it from the processor to the food service supplier, then to us,” said Pace.
Meanwhile, this week, Pace spent more than 10 hours cleaning and disinfecting his Rancho Bernardo restaurant. He wants to be ready when he gets the green light to reopen, though he’s aware of the challenges and uncertainty ahead.