Gerry Torres was optimistic as he sat inside one of the six City Tacos he founded Monday afternoon. He said all of them struggled during the pandemic but now, he had something to look forward to: serving customers inside for the first time in 2021.
“There is a challenge, but I think we’re up for it,” he said sitting inside his La Mesa location Monday afternoon.
“I’m happy to be able to receive guests back into our dining rooms, and maybe take them out of the cold a little bit,” he smiled as rain clouds rolled into San Diego County.
On Tuesday, the state is expected to announce a move into the red tier of California's four-tiered reopening plan for businesses. That means restaurants, theaters, and museums can host people inside up to 25% capacity beginning Wednesday, plus several other changes.
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“Stoked!” exclaimed James Hodges. “It’s going to be nice getting back to what we used to call a normal lifestyle.”
Or close to normal.
Hodges is the head brewer at Chula Vista Brewery on Chula Vista’s Third Avenue. He agreed the rules governing restaurants and breweries were a constant yo-yo the past year.
“Thank God we were able to stay afloat and make the pivots that we needed to do,” said Hodges.
“It’s encouraging to the employees. It’s encouraging to the ownership,” said Torres. “I’ve done everything possible so that City Tacos doesn’t die with the pandemic.”
At the same time, many businesses succumbed to the economic distress caused by the pandemic.
“To see family owned businesses like that, it’s heartbreaking, It’s really horrible,” sighed Hodges. “You know, it sucks.”
“I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry their situation,” agreed Torres.
Both men felt fortunate to endure the hardships presented by the pandemic. This week's shift into the next phase of reopening afforded them another step towards normalcy.
“It was challenging but, you know, it was also refreshing,” pondered Torres. “I think that it brought out the best in our staff. It brought out the best in me.”