Restaurant Owners Weigh Options in Face of New Purple Tier Restrictions

NBC Universal, Inc.

For months, restaurants have been dealing with the worry of closures looming over their heads, and Tuesday it became a reality.

By the time restaurants like King and Queen Cantina got their touchless sanitizing systems down, it’s time to adjust again.

San Diego is moving to the Purple Tier, triggering tighter restrictions like closing down indoor dining. Manager Manuel Arce said they’ve managed to thrive, even though they only have 60% of their staff.

“It’s an everyday struggle basically. These last couple weeks, we’ve had a lot of our employees come up to me and ask, 'Are we going into this Purple Tier?'” said Arce.

Their outdoor patio and sidewalk space helped make up for the tables lost inside under the 25% max capacity guidelines. But now, relying solely on those tables could be problematic.

“Fortunately for us, we have a great clientele and they’re very loyal to our restaurant,” said Arce.

The recent rain tested their outdoor umbrellas and heaters.

“At the end of the day, people are still not 100% comfortable with sitting outside in the water,” said Arce.

With several locations in California, Arce told NBC 7 the business will make it, but some employees will have to take the hit.

“Hopefully we can maintain our outside open and continue to give our guests the experience that they deserve without cutting too much of our workforce," he said.

But that’s not the case for everyone. A local coalition of restaurants is petitioning for officials to ease the restrictions and work with the businesses to keep them economically viable.

Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop in the East Village is part of that group. Co-owner and chef Victor Jimenez originally thought about defying the orders in the past, but has since changed his mind.

“We don’t think that it’s worth it to set up outside and not be able to sustain it,” said Jimenez.

With Tuesday's announcement, they will likely close down through the end of the year.

“Going outside with the inclement weather that we’ve had, the rain that we’ve had, we observed over the weekend other operators, they had to shut down,” said Jimenez.

Contact Us