San Diego restaurant workers back on the clock — for now

Posted at 4:24 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-19 00:21:44-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Restaurant workers across San Diego County returned to work Friday, after a Superior Court judge ruled restaurants could serve on-site.

Martin Cardenas was right back on the job Friday morning, prepping Chula Vista's El Cruce 241 for what he hoped was a sizable lunch crowd.

“You have to understand, it is around the holidays, we're social distancing, we're sanitizing everything, we're doing everything in our capacity to stay safe,” he said.

But the governor's office says those precautions are still not enough, with ICU capacity at 0% in Southern California due to the coronavirus spread.

In early December, the state reduced county restaurants to takeout only, eliminating thousands of jobs. The state reported Friday that nearly 110,000 San Diegans worked in restaurants in November before the latest shutdown order took effect.

But this week, a San Diego Superior Court judge gave restaurants the green light to serve on-site.

El Cruce 241 is still outdoor only, but other restaurants are now serving inside, which had been disallowed even before this latest shutdown.

Little Italy's Nolita Hall will reopen for dinner Friday, outdoors and inside with its Plexiglas-separated tables.

“Just being back to a full indoor/outdoor dining allows us to get to our full schedule that we had prior to the shutdown, which obviously is going to help everybody pay their bills and have some type of Merry Christmas,” said Dean Trombino, the restaurant’s prep lead.

But the opportunity to stay open could be short-lived, with the state already appealing the ruling.

“It could happen and hopefully it won't because it's very mentally draining when you have to consider not working again and where your next paycheck is coming from,” Trombino said.

For now, however, the doors are open and the tables are waiting.