San Diego businesses face headwinds days before reopening

Posted at 3:06 PM, Jun 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-12 23:26:17-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The state's full reopening is three days away, but San Diego business owners say they are still facing headwinds that lifting capacity restrictions won't solve.

By 11 a.m. Saturday, dozens waited to be seated at North Park’s Breakfast Republic.

For owner Johan Engman, it was a bittersweet sight, because there were empty tables in the restaurant.

“As of right now there's no shortage of business, we've been really nice and busy,” he said.

Engman wishes, however, the customers wouldn’t have to wait so long.

Nicolas Arciniega and has family, for instance, were quoted 45 minutes.

“I think a lot of people now are vaccinated, so I feel comfortable now,” he said.

Social distancing restrictions and restaurant capacity limits are set to lift Tuesday lifting with the state's reopening. That could push the demand to get out and return to normal life even heavier.

The problem, however, is that restaurants across San Diego don’t have the staff to handle the demand.

“It's a bummer because you've gone through a tough year where you've been hemorrhaging money, and this is your opportunity to get back on top and you're held back by the fact that you don't have enough employees,” Engman said.

Engman said he'd like to hire about 50 more workers across his restaurant group, but doesn't believe he will find that many takers until September, when the extra $300 per week in unemployment stops. That's despite Breakfast Republic raising hourly rates.

“There's a fatigue because you kind of want to take a breath now and just be like, 'oh we're back, but we're not back,'” Engman said.

In other words, the state may be fully reopening Tuesday, but things at local restaurants may not be so different right away.