Restaurants open on Christmas with skeleton crews

Posted at 9:17 PM, Dec 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-26 02:10:50-05

SAN DIEGO — The latest shutdown order has not been kind to San Diego restaurants this holiday season, but some chose to remain open on Christmas despite being relegated to takeout-only service.

Harry Kim made the executive decision to keep north park diner open on Christmas for the first time. And to say the restaurant is stretched thin would be an understatement.

“it’s hitting us really hard,” Kim said. “When we had outside dining I had employees, five of them. Right now I just work with me and my wife.”

Kim has owned the diner since 2007, and says opening on Christmas provides an opportunity for more sales if everyone else was closed. He says it paid off with some extra takeout orders and others through UberEats and GrubHub.

Meanwhile, at downtown's Gaslamp BBQ, a skeleton crew handled a steady stream of takeout orders. Owner Tarik Marogy always keeps the restaurant open on Christmas, so 2020 would be no different.

“We know we are going to be busy today because a lot of the restaurants usually close,” Marogy said.

Marogy says the barbecue has been hit hard in the pandemic. He reduced his employees from 20 to 8. In all, nearly 110,000 San Diegans worked in local restaurants in November, down more than 15 percent compared to November 2019, according to the latest state data available. That was before the most recent shutdown order went into effect.

Margoy said, however, that Christmas night orders exceeded his expectations.

“I didn’t expect that I'm going to have that much business because of the Covid. But I was surprised, and thank God business was good,” Marogy said

He says he's hopeful things are going to get better in 2021. And the barbecue will be open January 1 to ring in the new year.