San Diego Restaurants Feel Economic Pinch of Coronavirus

Some restaurants are being forced to reduce hours for employees.

Empty restaurant

San Diego businesses and restaurants are feeling the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., with one restaurant owner reporting an estimated 40-percent loss in business since the beginning of March.

Tarik Marogy owns the Gaslamp BBQ along Island Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Marogy told NBC 7 that a decrease in the number of conventioneers is having a severe impact on his business.

“I’ve had to send my employees home. I can’t afford to keep employees with no customers,” Marogy said.

One of those employees, Valerie Krupilnicki, said she can make anywhere from $70 to well over $100 in tips on a good day.

“I’m trying not to stress, and hopefully, this situation won’t last too long and won’t impact us too much, but it seems it’s going to impact a great deal,” Krupilnicki said.

Krupilnicki went home during the usually-bustling lunch hour. On this day, there was not a single customer in the restaurant.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Convention Center announced yet another major convention -- that was expecting to bring in 15,000 people in April -- has been postponed. The American Association for Cancer Research has an estimated impact of $73 million, according to the convention center.

Other downtown restaurants, not normally dependent on conventioneers, are also feeling the economic pinch of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.

Samuel Aldama, an owner of Bud and Rob’s New Orleans Bistro on F Street, said he caters to downtown residents and businesses but people are staying away.

“It’s a bit striking how general fear can cause people to avoid their normal patterns of behavior,” Aldama said.

He said there’s normally 70 to 120 customers during the lunch hour. Recently, that number has dwindled to 15 to 20 customers.

Aldama isn’t worried about the survival of his business but may soon have to consider cutting back hours for his employees.

“It basically comes down to, I may need to cut one employee every shift. There’s minimums I have to work with in order to keep things going,” said Aldama.

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