Restaurants Getting Creative to Stay Viable During Coronavirus Pandemic

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Restaurants across San Diego County are laying off the people who work in their kitchens and dining rooms because of public health orders issued to help flatten the coronavirus curve.

Some restaurant owners are changing the way they do business just to stay afloat, like offering to-go meals, but some are offering more than that.

The 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro shut down both its kitchens in Encinitas and Ocean Beach two weeks ago, staying open only to sell wine. 

“We’re doing what we have to do to make sure we have a place for our 70 employees to come back to when this is all over,” explained 3rd Corner’s Director of Operations, Debbie Kalinowski.

Kalinowski said people have been buying a lot of wine to consume during the stay-at-home order from Governor Newsom.

Every morning she started sending out an email to wine club members, reminding them the wine shops are open for business. Those emails worked. Loyal customers visited 3rd Corner to pick up extra bottles of their favorite vintages.

“So many of our guests who were picking up wine were saying they missed our food,” said Kalinowski, so 3rd Corner decided to start serving a limited menu for carry-out. Four entrees are available for $16 each. The bistro plans to change the menu every week.

The first day was Tuesday. Kalinowski described that evening as “crazy busy.”

Customers started calling the bistro during the day to place their orders and say what time they’ll pick up.

Curbside delivery is available for both dinner and wine selections.

But 3rd Corner isn’t calling it a total success yet and is planning on taking it day-by-day in the hope they will soon be able to bring back some of its employees.

The Pushkin Russian Restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter has already hired back most of its 13 employees after owner Ike Gazaryan decided to try delivering groceries to the restaurant’s Facebook followers.

The business started slowly, but after just one week, restaurant employees are filling more than 100 orders a day and delivering them across the county. 

So many customers called for items like toilet paper and eggs that Gazaryan began expanding his inventory to more than 300 items, including meat, bread, and produce. He built a webpage to handle the orders that came pouring in.

People who work at Pushkin wear facemasks and gloves. Gazaryan said every box that comes into his restaurant is wiped down for cleanliness. He is taking every precaution to keep his employees and his customers safe, he said.

How long does he plan to continue?  

“As long as it takes. As long as our customers need us.”

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