Hillcrest pizzeria balancing safety with the need to stay afloat

Posted at 5:11 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 20:21:19-04

SAN DIEGO — Sisters Pizza on the edge of Hillcrest just celebrated its one-year anniversary.

The party wasn’t exactly what owner Emily Green Lake had in mind.

"We're not constantly doing refills, bringing them condiments the way that we used to,” she said. “Salt and pepper shakers are a thing of the past. I don't know that we'll ever see those again.”

About two weeks ago, county restaurants got the green light to once again host guests.

While Lake doesn't have to, she is keeping the dining room closed to the public for safety reasons.

Instead, she opened eight of the 22 tables on her front patio, spaced out for social distancing.

“It's nice to see people back there, but it's sad to think of the opportunities that my business is missing out on,” Lake said.

Still, not every restaurant is hosting guests . Some are opting to stay take-out only for the time being. The ones that have opened up, however, are finding limited takers.

New reservation data from Open Table shows seated dining in San Diego is down about 80% from this time a year ago.

One reason: only about 45 percent of the restaurants in Open Table’s network are even taking reservations.

“Just because we've had to open the economy doesn't mean that there is no coronavirus anymore, and I think that's where people are coming from when they don't want to be among the masses,” Lake said.

Lake said while delivery is up, overall sales are down 40%. And to make it harder, she's spending 80 cents per order on disposable plates and utensils.

Lake said she has been able to keep all of her 14 workers, but that their hours have been cut. Normally, around this time year, Lake would have hired twice as many people.

Customers, meanwhile, are now ordering from the front patio. While a server wearing protective gear brings out the food, customers asked to bus their own tables.