This weekend is the first since California’s reopening on Tuesday that people are out and about in a big way -- Getting back to their favorite bars, clubs and other nightlife activities without tier systems or any Covid-related restrictions.
The last time Parq nightclub in the Gaslamp Quarter was open at full capacity, over 2,000 people packed in and 50 Cent was scheduled to perform in a few weeks.
Saturday night, the lights came on for the first time in 469 days for a full house.
Reminders of the pandemic were still visible amid the full capacity crowd in the forms of plexiglass, hand sanitizer stations and masks for staff, most of whom owner Carlos Becerra says he was able to keep on.
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But after so long away, practice makes perfect.
“Last night we did I think six or seven hours of it. I'm sure we're going to have some kinks tonight, it's our first night,” Becerra said. “But we're blessed we're here and we get to open and get Parq back up in San Diego and hopefully get back to where we left off. I’m definitely excited, but I think it's really going to hit home once the music's going and people are in here tonight.”
Becerra told NBC 7 he was able to stay in business thanks to a break on rent by his landlord, but he's still waiting for some grant money to come in.
“It’s hard we always say we were the first to close and last to reopen because of the nature of the industry…a lot of people have left the hospitality industry…I can't really blame them,” he said.
Kevin Hellman with the San Diego Event Coalition says over 200,000 San Diegans in the live event industry were impacted when businesses shut down in March of 2020.
“In the events industry, we’re a bunch of crazy people, but we’re pretty resilient,” he said. “We're in the business of making people happy and that's what we're going to do.”
Hellman says the struggle makes the comeback even sweeter.
“San Diego is coming back quick. We've got a lot of things going on, and I think you're going to start seeing every weekend in the next few weeks start to be filled up with different events,” he said. “It's going to be an exciting time, let's just say that people have been sitting at home for a long time and if you want to get out, there’s something to do.”
Becerra says he already has performers booked the next few weekends and is looking forward to a busy summer.