Although dining -- both indoor and outdoor -- is on at San Diego County restaurants, some local eateries just can't bounce back from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and have been forced to permanently shutter.
Eater San Diego has compiled this running list of San Diego restaurants that have had to permanently close during the COVID-19 crisis. Keep checking Eater's reporting for daily updates (and we will add updates on NBC 7, too). We will also include any bars or nightclubs that have permanently closed during the pandemic on our list.
Here's a sampling of local spots that have closed during the pandemic, so far:
Chiquita’s Mexican Restaurant (San Diego)
Chiquita’s Mexican Restaurant – around since 1967, with 36 of those years spent at its bright yellow location on Home Avenue (that triangle between I-15, I-805 and SR-94) – announced on Facebook on April 28 that it was permanently closing. The restaurant said the closure was “abrupt” and thanked locals for their support over more than five decades. The eatery had a rich history (you can read more about that here) and reaction on social media was strong. For the final time, the crew at Chiquita’s rung its closing bell, overcome with emotion.
Little George’s Bakery (South Bay)
Little George’s Bakery – a sweet staple in San Diego’s South Bay for more than 40 years – announced in mid-March 2021 that it would permanently close after its owner passed away. The bakery said on Facebook that the owner, Gene Bartlett, 80, had died of complications related to COVID-19. “We are heartbroken,” the March 16 post on the bakery’s Facebook feed read. The bakery said its loyal customers brought Bartlett “so much joy” over the decades but, without Bartlett, there is no Little George’s Bakery. “The bakery was all Gene,” the post said. NBC 7 spoke with Bartlett’s daughter-in-law about his life and sweet legacy, which included owning George’s Wonderful World of Cakes in National City for more than 30 years (Bartlett acquired it from the original “George” in 1975). She said Bartlett had worked all the way up until January 2021, when he became ill with COVID-19. He died on March 16. Bartlett’s most famous recipe was his “lemon snow cake,” which the family hopes will find a home someday at another local bakery. You can read more about Bartlett here.
Mangia Italiano (Chula Vista)
For 14 years, Mangia Italiano was a dining staple on Chula Vista’s Third Avenue, hosting everything from wedding parties to Chula Vista City Council candidate debates. The walls of one hallway featured framed photos of local dignitaries who frequented the restaurant. It was a local hangout. Finally, on the final weekend of January 2021, owner Adam Sparks announced he was throwing in the towel and permanently shuttering the eatery. In an emotional interview with NBC 7, Sparks said that what he will miss the most is being part of Chula Vista’s small business community.
Ichiro’s Happy Japanese Restaurant (Convoy District)
Ichiro’s Happy Japanese Restaurant – a beloved eatery on Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa – announced it would close its doors, for good, in Jan. 30, 2021. The restaurant had been around for 36 years and specialized in Izakaya-style small plates and authentic Japanese dishes like ramen and sushi. But the owner said this past year had “been too challenging to continue.” In a heartfelt message to patrons on Facebook, the owner wrote: “I will miss making Japanese homestyle food for all of you. Thank you for your loyal business over all the years. I wish you all the best for a happy, healthy, and prosperous future.”
10 Barrel San Diego (East Village)
On Dec. 4, 2020, 10 Barrel, the brewpub on E Street in San Diego’s East Village, announced it would permanently close. “This closure is a direct result of the global health crisis and the significant impacts COVID-19 has had on the pub’s business operations and revenue,” a message posted to 10 Barrel San Diego’s website read. The business also posted this message on Instagram. The brewpub went on to thank anyone who had ever dropped in for a beer or a meal and said its beers would still be available locally. 10 Barrel San Diego had been around since spring 2017 and caused quite a stir among the craft beer community when it opened, since it was operated by Anheuser-Busch – definitely not small brewing. When it opened, craft beer fans pooled together money to fly a plane with a banner over the East Village that read, “10 Barrel is not craft beer.”
Tacos Libertad and Bo-Beau Kitchen + Cache (Hillcrest)
San Diego’s powerhouse hospitality group, Cohn Restaurant Group, confirmed on Nov. 18 that it was permanently closing two of its locations, both in Hillcrest: Tacos Libertad and Bo-Beau Kitchen + Cache. The eateries were both located along University Avenue and had interesting set-ups: Bo-Beau was home a “secret” speakeasy bar called Cache, and Tacos Libertad was a “for-charity” restaurant that helped local nonprofit organizations. The Cohns said both restaurants were closing “due to the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on our restaurant community.” They also said that Tacos Libertad – and its patrons – had been able to raise over $100,000 for local charities since it opened in 2017. “We will strive to continue to support the community any way that we can,” the restaurant group added.
San Marcos Brewery & Grill (San Marcos)
After 27 years in business, San Marcos Brewery & Grill on San Marcos Boulevard announced on Nov. 19 that its doors would permanently close. “Well, the time has come,” a message posted on the brewery’s Facebook page read. “With restrictions of COVID-19 and the purple tier, the brewery has suspended operations. We’ve had a good 27-year run and now it’s time to call it…done.” The business opened back in 1993 and called itself the “first micro-brewery in North County San Diego.” Over the last three decades, North County’s craft brewing scene has taken on a life of its own, and many consider San Marcos Brewery & Grill a big part of that region’s craft culture.
Small Bar & Grill (University Heights)
Small Bar & Grill – a cozy favorite in University Heights for the past 11 years – announced on Nov. 12 that it would permanently shutter. In a heartbreaking post on social media, its owner laid out the hardships faced by the bar and restaurant due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. “2020 has proven to be more than this little bar can handle,” the owner said in a video post online. The owner said Small Bar has meant so much to so many. But, she expressed how physically and emotionally tired she is from years of setbacks. With the pandemic still in full force, Small Bar’s owner said there is no light at the end of the tunnel this time. “This year, I fought hard, but the numbers just don’t add up,” she added. The owner said the bar had shut down again last week after a member of its team tested positive for COVID-19. Losing the week of sales was the nail in the coffin, she said. The announcement on social media had dozens of comments from patrons saying the bar would always hold a special place in their hearts.
Phil’s BBQ in San Marcos
Phil’s BBQ – the popular homegrown chain of barbecue spots – announced on Nov. 13 that it would be shuttering its San Marcos location due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In a Facebook post, owner Phil Pace said the county’s latest COVID-19 mandates had, in part, pushed him to make the decision to close the location, which had been in San Marcos for more than 10 years. He also said the restaurant’s lease was nearing its end and the location has always “had its challenges,” also due to a difficult parking situation. “I feel like the prudent thing to do is to step away and look for other opportunities in the North County area,” Pace wrote. Phil’s BBQ has several other locations in San Diego County that remain open including Point Loma, Santee, and Rancho Bernardo. The BBQ chain also has locations inside the San Diego International Airport, Petco Park, and Sycuan.
Martinis Above Fourth Table + Stage (Hillcrest)
Martinis Above Fourth – a restaurant, lounge, and music venue on Fourth Avenue in Hillcrest – has permanently shuttered after 10 years in business. After months of being shut down due to the pandemic, the cozy spot made the sad announcement on Facebook on Oct. 19. In the post, the venue talked about the twists and turns of 2020 and how Martinis just couldn’t survive the pandemic. “After much deliberation about how to reopen and survive the COVID era, we have concluded there is simply no real viable path forward for Martinis Above Fourth and decided to close the business and file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Protection.” The post went on to thank patrons, the community, the staff and performers who have filled the spot with fun times for a decade. “We will never forget the amazing memories we all made together, and we hope that you will not forget us,” the message added.
Bar Pink (North Park)
In another devastating blow to the unique landscape of North Park, the latest beloved spot to shut down due to the pandemic is Bar Pink – also known as the pinkest bar you’ve ever walked into. The hip bar on 30th Street, like all bar and music venues in San Diego County, has been severely impacted by the economic strain of the pandemic. During the COVID-19 shutdown, Bar Pink had been trying to sell to-go cocktails to survive, but it just wasn’t enough. The venue had also been livestreaming its musical performances on social media. Bar Pink commented on the news of its permanent closure coyly on Facebook. A rep for Bar Pink said the club plans to release a statement, but they’re just not ready yet.
Tiger! Tiger! (North Park)
Another pioneering and much-loved restaurant in North Park will not return from the pandemic shutdown: Tiger! Tiger! The tavern on El Cajon Boulevard opened nine years ago and paved the way for countless craft beer bars that followed in North Park. Tiger! Tiger! was known for its extensive beer list but also for its thoughtful menu and commitment to local ingredients. The restaurant group that ran Tiger! Tiger! will continue to operate Blind Lady Ale House and Panama 66. Eater San Diego has lots of details on this latest permanent restaurant closure here.
Jayne’s Gastropub (Normal Heights)
Jayne’s Gastropub, a beloved, 15-year-old eatery on 30th Street near Adams Avenue in the Normal Heights area, has permanently closed. Like many local restaurants, Jayne’s temporarily shuttered back in March as the COVID-19 crisis reached San Diego County. On Aug. 5, Jayne’s shared an official farewell letter on social media announcing it was shuttering. “This has been a year none of us could have expected and has given us a new perspective on all we hold dear,” the letter read, in part. The letter thanked the devoted patrons and community for a beautiful, long run and the “late-night dance parties.” “You truly became our friends and we thank you for trusting us with your Valentines, birthdays, engagements, and even weddings,” the note added. The well-loved neighborhood spot served a British-inspired menu and was known for its standout burger.
North Park Breakfast Company (North Park)
Known for its strong brunch game, North Park Breakfast Company, which opened last spring on University Avenue, has shuttered. The restaurant had been closed since July 14, after the county rolled back indoor dining at restaurants as COVID-19 cases surged. At the time, the closure was supposed to be temporary, but things have changed. The Gaslamp location of the Breakfast Company is still open, though, and owner Johan Engman tells Eater San Diego that he plans on expanding the brand.
Furaido Premium Chicken Company (Poway)
This Korean-style fried chicken restaurant debuted in the food court of Atlas Market in Poway in late 2018 but, sadly, could not survive the pandemic -- at least not in that location. Eater San Diego readers report the eatery is now closed but may reopen elsewhere.
That Pizza Place (Carlsbad)
After 43 years in business, Carlsbad’s beloved pizza place – That Pizza Place – announced on Facebook on June 23 that it was permanently closing. “We are heartbroken to make this announcement but there is no other option for us,” the social media post read. “The situation we all find ourselves in has created an environment under which we were unable to prosper.” At last check, the eatery’s Facebook post had more than 1,000 comments from devoted patrons crushed by the sad news, reminiscing on all the times they had eaten there.
Crab Catcher (La Jolla)
After more than 35 years in business, Crab Catcher has reportedly shuttered for good. The seafood restaurant had been closed since mid-March.
Napizza (Encinitas and Little Italy)
The surviving Napizza locations in Little Italy and Encinitas had been closed since mid-March and now, they will not reopen. Eater reports the Encinitas location will be replaced by a new Mr. Moto Pizza.
Sicilia Bella (La Jolla)
This Italian café on Ivanhoe Avenue will not reopen – at least not as Sicilia Bella. The owners said on Facebook that they plan to return after summer with “a new concept and a new location to better meet your needs.”
Rosie’s Café (Escondido)
Escondido’s beloved Rosie’s Café will not be reopening, the restaurant announced in a Facebook post. “It is heartbreaking for ‘Rosie’ and her crew to accept this reality,” the post read, in part. The diner – which had been temporarily shuttered since March – was featured twice on the Food Network TV show, “Restaurant: Impossible.” One of those episodes followed a fundraiser organized for the owner of Rosie’s who was the victim of a hit-and-run in late December 2019. The Facebook post about the closure of Rosie’s Café also touched on the owner’s ongoing recovery, which includes “physical, cognitive, and occupational therapies.”
Whisknladle (La Jolla)
After 12 years in business, the well-known farm-to-table bistro, Whisknladle, has served its last meal on Wall Street in La Jolla. Whisknladle Hospitality owner Arturo Kassel and culinary director Ryan Johnston wrote a heartbreaking message on social media, sharing the news of the restaurant’s closure with patrons. “After much deliberation about how to reopen and survive in the COVID era, we have concluded there is simple no real viable path forward for Whisknladle.” The hospitality group plans to continue operating its other properties including Gravity Height and Parks Common in Sorrento Mesa, and Catania, also in La Jolla.
Coyote Ugly Saloon (Downtown San Diego)
Eater San Diego reports that Coyote Ugly Saloon on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter has joined the list of restaurants and bars that have permanently closed in San Diego during the pandemic. The bar’s adjacent pizza shop, Samurai Pie, will also not reopen. Coyote Ugly Saloon was founded by Liliana Lovell in New York City in 1993 and expanded to San Diego in 2014 with the opening of this 7,000-square-foot space in the heart of downtown San Diego. Eater said Lovell broke the news of the San Diego location’s closure via a post on Facebook.
Primavera Ristorante (Coronado)
This family-owned Italian restaurant on Coronado Island announced on May 14 it will not reopen “following its closure as part of the state’s COVID-19 mandated shutdown.” The restaurant on Orange Avenue had been around for 30 years but had temporarily shuttered a couple of months ago as the coronavirus pandemic began impacting life in San Diego County. Primavera Ristorante opened in 1989 and was operated by Cristos and Jeannette Stavros. After Cristos Stavros’ passing, his wife and daughter, Denise Stavros, kept the family restaurant running. “Serving our Coronado community has brought us immense joy for more than 30 years, so it is with a heavy heart that we announce that we will not be reopening,” a social media post from the restaurant said. “To our many guests throughout the years, thank you for being part of our story.”
Toronado (North Park)
This beloved craft beer bar in North Park announced it would wind down its operations back in January, but Eater San Diego reports it had stayed opened for takeout over the last few months. This month, Toronado San Diego officially shuttered for good. The craft beer spot posted photos of staffers taking down the “Toronado” sign on the bar’s 30th Street location. “Going, going…gone. Thank you San Diego, for 12 great years.
Casa Sol y Mar (Carmel Valley)
This 300-seat restaurant at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center debuted in 2013 and is owned and operated by Diane Powers. Eater reports that Powers will give Casa Sol y Mar employees a chance to transfer to one of her other local eateries: Casa Guadalajara in Old Town San Diego; Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad; Casa de Pico in La Mesa.
Iron Fist Brewing (Vista and Barrio Logan)
The nearly 10-year-old Iron Fist Brewing ran a production brewery in Vista and a tasting room in Barrio Logan and has now shut down all operations. The brewer announced it would sell off all its merch on May 15 at its Vista facility.
Tamarindo Latin Kitchen & Bar (North Park)
Citing Eater San Diego readers, Eater reports this restaurant’s space on University Avenue has been emptied of all furnishings and kitchen equipment.
Ebisu Sushi (Hillcrest)
This sushi bar on Sixth Avenue had been offering takeout during the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, but it will permanently close on May 16. Eater reports that owners Han Tran and Jay Choy will continue to run their other property in San Diego, Shank & Bone, a Vietnamese restaurant in North Park.
More stories from The Scene, your source for what's happening in America's Finest City
Troy’s Family Restaurant (Clairemont)
Eater San Diego reports that this family-run diner inside Clairemont Town Square has permanently shuttered after being denied a PPP loan. Troy’s Family Restaurant had been around since 1973.
Souplantation (Many Locations)
The San Diego staple announced last week it would permanently close its 97 Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants across the U.S. Souplantation's set-up relies on buffet-style soup and salad service and the company said FDA recommendations and pandemic restrictions just won't work for its business model in our new world. Approximately 4,400 employees worked for the company. It operated eight restaurants in San Diego County, including locations on Fletcher Parkway, Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Mission Gorge Road, and Main Court in Chula Vista.
Candice Woo is the founding editor of Eater San Diego, a leading source for news about San Diego’s restaurant and bar scene. Keep up with the latest Eater San Diego content via Facebook or Twitter, and sign up for Eater San Diego’s newsletter here.