Poway restaurants are hopeful the seemingly overnight Restaurant Week launch will help make up for lost sales from the recent citywide shutdown.
Poway city officials moved quickly to launch an emergency restaurant week, encouraging people countywide to dine in Poway with the slogan, “Eat Big, Tip Big.”
Poway's Giant New York Pizza has been in business for more than 30 years and owner Mike Hamama said in his three decades of making pizza for Poway, he has never seen a citywide shut down due to a boil water advisory.
“To be honest with you, it was really sad because we had to close down, it really hurts,” Hamama said. “It was a big loss. It was almost a week, we have bills to pay.”
Hamama said he lost a few thousand dollars in sales after the city called and emailed him Saturday night informing him he had to close his doors immediately.
Knowing he could not stay closed, he quickly applied for a modified health permit. After paying $460 as well as undergoing a health inspection check to prove he would not use tap water for food preparation or dishes, he passed.
“I was desperate to open, and it was worth it,” Hamama added.
He said he only used bottled water to clean his produce and prepare his dough.
Another restaurant, Mainstream’s Bar and Grill, paid for a modified health permit and opened Wednesday night. In order to follow the modified permit, the restaurant bought chopped lettuce, pre-sliced tomatoes, and they served food on paper plates.
“As a Poway resident, I am worried about my family,” said General Manager Brian Harvey. “How am I going to take care of them; but also, how are we going to keep the business floating when we don’t know when we are going to be able to open back up?"
"We threw a lot of food away. We basically cleaned out our whole line in our kitchen. All the produce was done,” Harvey added.
He said his business partners were also impacted by the forced shutdown.
“My liquor vendors, my produce vendors, my meat vendors, everyone is calling; we are not placing orders. It doesn’t just stop at the restaurant level, it goes deeper," Harvey said.
Harvey said he was grateful to his loyal customers who came as soon as he reopened to help his staff.
On Friday morning, before the ban was even lifted, Harvey said a regular customer came in and handed his server a white envelope after the meal, a tip for $1,000. Harvey said it made her Christmas as a single mother with two children at home.
On Friday night when the ban was finally lifted, the band Crossroads played as planned, but would not allow Harvey to pay them their usual set fee. Instead, the band asked Harvey to give that money to his staff.
“That is the community we have here in Poway, they come together for each other,” said Harvey.