After re-opening, restaurants may only have half the number of seats

Posted at 4:49 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 21:29:37-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Governor Gavin Newsom explained that the "new normal" would not be the same as before the coronavirus pandemic. After re-opening, California restaurants may have to cut their dining areas in half to accommodate social distancing rules.

Don't expect a huge dining hall when you walk into Soichi Sushi in University Heights. There are only 12 seats at the bar and a few more at the community table. Take your time and banter. Eat whatever sushi chefs, Soichi Kadoya and Masato Fujita recommend.

"Our restaurant specializes in the 'omakase experience.' A very traditional intimate dining experience," co-owner Rachael Kadoya said.

This month, the family-run business should be celebrating their successes for their first anniversary. In January, USA Today ranched Soichi Sushi number nine in the "Top 100 places to eat in the United States." Instead, because of the coronavirus, they have had to change their entire operation.

"Transferring that business model into the takeout business model took a lot of thought and effort," Kadoya said.

They downsized their menu, shifted schedules, and dropped prices. Their revenue dipped significantly, but Kadoya said they are managing. Like every local business owner, they cannot wait for normalcy to return. But Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom shed the harsh reality of the "new normal."

"You may be having dinner with a waiter wearing gloves, maybe a face mask, a dinner where the menu is disposable, where the tables, half of the tables in that restaurant no longer appear," the Governor said in his daily address.

"Our number will be cut by a lot because we're such a small restaurant," Kadoya said.

With half the seats gone, Soichi can only serve about ten customers at a time.

"I figure we could space out twos," Kadoya said. "Two people, then skip two seats, kind of thing. We are thinking that we might just have to increase prices to compensate for that."

Kadoya said they are coming up with new solutions and taking it day by day, with the hopes that they can one day return to their original business model: traditional intimate dining.

"We are going to get through this, and things are going to look better, not right away, but soon," Kadoya said.