City of Escondido helping businesses thrive outside during indoor shutdowns

Posted at 6:09 AM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 09:09:01-04

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) -- As San Diego County inches closer to finally being removed from the state’s watch list, it remains unknown what exactly that will mean for businesses that have been waiting to reopen indoor operations.

“We have asked the state for guidance for what they think the policy will be, the process will be, for potentially reopening some of the entities that faced additional closures,” said County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

In the meantime, some cities across the county have been working with businesses to ensure they can still operate outside during the challenging time. Some of those businesses appear to be thriving.

“More people are coming out to eat, and as you can see, we’re already almost full here,” said Mia Davis, the owner of Mikko Sushi in downtown Escondido.

Davis and her sister-in-law, Minky Jeon, opened Mikko Sushi in February, but just one month later they were forced to shut down indoor dining due to the rising COVID-19 cases across the county.

They moved to take out orders only, a struggle for the new business owners.

“We were devastated actually because we were just finally starting to build our clientele,” said Davis.

Then the City of Escondido stepped in to help businesses move outdoors quickly and easily, making all the difference for business owners like Davis.

“The City of Escondido went out of their way to help us,” she said. “They really helped expedite the permit process, and I didn’t have to pay any fees.”

Davis told ABC 10News, she was not only able to keep her original staff employed, but Mikko Sushi became so busy with outdoor dining, that she had to hire more employees.

“Every Friday night we have a big waiting list,” she said. “I’m thankful that local customers really been supporting us, and I can’t complain.”

A walk down Grand Avenue in Escondido reveals how locals have embraced the opportunity to dine outside. The sight is something that brings Amber Tarrac, the Deputy Director of Economic Development for the City of Escondido, much joy.

“We’re really happy and proud to be able to support our businesses in that way,” said Tarrac. “The city really took strong, swift action and worked with very closely with our Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Business Association to allow for and facilitate the permit process to allow for our businesses to operate outside. We expanded that to salons, to restaurants and other retail as well.”

During a time where there are many uncertainties for small business owners, Davis said the opportunity to try something new and succeed is rewarding.

“I’m thankful that our business is doing well during this pandemic, and I’m thankful for what the city did,” said Davis.

The City of Escondido recently launched a grant program to help small businesses. Applications will be accepted through August 28th. Business owners can apply here.