Business owners say pushback is about survival

Posted at 2:37 PM, Sep 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-20 19:56:11-04

SAN DIEGO — Business owners across San Diego County are readying to push back against a potential new round of Coronavirus restrictions.

The county could reach the state’s most restrictive purple tier on Tuesday, meaning restaurants, gyms, nail salons and estheticians would all have to stop indoor service.

Business owners are now calling this a fight for survival.

“We’ve been in the red since March, so the bleeding’s got to stop somewhere,” said Ben Clevenger, who owns Lakeside’s Eastbound Bar and Grill.

Clevenger has reduced his staff from 45 to about 15, and he’s now taking shifts running food and cooking in the kitchen. It’s the only way the restaurant can survive amid social distancing restrictions inside, and 100 degree weather outside.

“Never do I mind getting my hands dirty, but I would much rather have an employee doing it because it’s money in their pocket,” Clevenger said.

The county is on track to move into the state’s most restrictive tier of coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday - largely because of an increase in cases at San Diego State University.

On Monday, the county Board of Supervisors will meet behind closed doors to decide whether to take action against the state. Just outside, business owners like Clevenger and Cesar Vallin, a managing partner at Little Italy’s Cloak & Petal, will hold a rally urging the board to act.

“Where’s the support from this?” Vallin said. “I just got a property tax bill, I just got a sales tax bill, $60,000 that you’re saying I have to pay and if I’m late, it’s a $6,000 late fee. But you’re telling me I have to possibly shut down my business again?”