San Diego

Point Loma Restaurant Gets Creative to Help Employees During Holidays

When outdoor dining was banned, business suffered, but for Inguis, it was the health of his employees that was his priority

NBC Universal, Inc.

With businesses closing and no government relief in sight, it could be a difficult holiday for a lot of San Diegans. But one Point Loma restaurant is coming up with creative ways to avoid layoffs, and hopefully give workers a merrier Christmas.

“It’s been a long-time dream. I always dreamed of owning a restaurant,” said Niccolo Inguis, owner of Cesarina.

When outdoor dining was banned, business suffered, but for Inguis, it was the health of his employees that was his priority.

“They bring their love and passion and take ownership of this place and in return, we must provide for them,” Inguis said.

Cesarina restaurant closed early in the pandemic after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. Inguis wanted to be transparent with the community and keep his workers safe.

“We decided to get everybody tested, and once everyone tested negative we reopened and it was great to see the support we received from the community,” Inguis said.

Instead of laying off workers during the current stay-at-home order, Nicolo decided to split up the hours among his 60 employees. More shifts were given to people with children, or other family to care for. Some employees also gave up some of their shifts to help those more in need.

“That’s what brought me to Cesarina: the family environment,” said Rodrigo Gomez, a prep cook at Cesarina.

“Once I started working here, you really get a sense that these people care about you as a person,” Gomez added.

Another way Inguis is trying to help his employees is by selling holiday boxes full of Italian pastries, called ‘I Pasticcini di Cesarina,’ and 100% of the profits will go to the employees.

“In a moment like this, especially Christmas, it’s not just about surviving. It’s about making gifts for your family, for your kids, for the people you love,” Inguis said.

Inguis is hoping to raise between $15,000 and $20,000 for his employees before Christmas.

His ‘I Pasticcini di Cessarina’ is priced at $99 each and features two dozen specialty tarts, biscotti, cannoli and other Italian pastries. Orders must be placed before Dec. 20 by calling the restaurant. Delivery is available in some neighborhoods. Holiday boxes must be picked up on Dec. 23 and Dec. 24.

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