A sign on the door of Puesto at the Headquarters near Seaport Village is letting customers know the popular Mexican restaurant has temporarily closed.
Restaurant co-founder Eric Adler shared the emotional toll of having to reduce his staff from 650 to just 20 people at seven restaurants statewide.
“It’s devastating. The worst thing you can do,” explained Adler.
Adler is frustrated with the opening and closing roller coaster everchanging public health orders have put on businesses.
The situation now, with only takeout service allowed, just isn't enough, Adler said, noting sales have plunged to less than 5%.
Adler said the current restrictions are impossible to satisfy for some restaurants.
“It’s very hard to break patterns of people and be like, you know, now go to your sit-down restaurants and get takeout. It’s just more of an experience to go. You dine out to go with your friends or family you know, you have a meal, you're going to have a cocktail. It’s not necessarily just about being fed," explained Adler.
Radio personality Chino Iglesias was saddened by the closure. He said it’s his families favorite restaurant.
In a post on social media, Iglesias expressed his hopes the closure doesn't become permanent.
“So many people are losing their jobs and I think that’s where it hit me the most, more than just being a great restaurant. It made me feel saddened for the people that had to lose work,” said Iglesias.
An estimated 176,000 local workers lost their jobs in 2020 due to COVID-19, according to SANDAG.
Juniper and Ivy, another high-end restaurant has had to reduce staff from 50 to about 10.
In an effort to keep people working and their doors open, the Little Italy eatery got creative and started selling takeout cooking kits that come with virtual instruction. Customers can scan a QR code and Juniper and Ivy Executive Chef, Anthony Wells, shows them how to cook their food.
“We feel like we're a production restaurant as opposed to, you know, a full-service restaurant, and I think it was his way of trying to still be relational and still feel like he had an audience to cook for," explained Anna Shin, General Manager of Juniper and Ivy.
Puesto’s co-founder is optimistic about reopening. He’s hoping businesses will at least be allowed outdoor dining soon which will help get some of their employees back to work.