“We do what we can.”
Aniello Zaino sighed as he said that a few hours before the Chula Vista City Council approved several plans to make life better for restaurant owners like him.
“Everything helps. Everything is welcome. All the help we take,” he said.
Zaino owns Italianissimo Trattoria on the Third Avenue Village in Chula Vista. The coronavirus pandemic has not treated him well.
“Horrible!” he exclaimed. “We had to close for three months.”
Other restaurants along Third Avenue offered carry out before California allowed them to open their dining rooms again. That was short lived. Now owners like Zaino are working on ways to move their dining outside onto city sidewalks and streets.
“I have to pay pills,” he said. “Keep the employees on the payroll.”
“It’s just going to be a huge challenge,” said Chula Vista City Manager Maria Kachadoorian. “This is why we’re here: To serve the public. This is when they need us the most.”
Tuesday night, the Chula Vista City Council approved a series of agenda items that will help local businesses and Chula Vistans.
One item allows the Third Avenue Village Association to block traffic along Third Avenue on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings to allow restaurants and bars to expand seating into the streets. The TAVA still needs to finalize its plan before the closure schedule takes effect.
The council also agreed to adjust the permitting process to make it easier for those businesses to set up dining areas on city rights-of-way.
Kachadoorian said the most important item is a $1.5 million economic relief fund that could offer small business owners upwards of $6,000 in grant money. The City Manager said those businesses that qualify would not have to pay that money back. She said the funds come from the federal government’s $2.1 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
She said the city doesn’t want to waste any time getting that money out to business that have 10 or fewer employees.
“We actually are not even going through the process of asking people for their banking information to do it electronically. No, we’re mailing the check,” Kachadoorian said with a slap of her hands.
Zaino was all for it.
“Yeah, let’s go. Let’s go to work!” he exclaimed.
Kachadoorian said businesses that qualify and are interested in the relief funds can apply on the City of Chula Vista’s website.
Also passed by the City Council Tuesday was an extension on the city's eviction moratorium, acceptance of $500,000 in emergency aid for the homeless from the Regional Taskforce on the Homeless,