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Death by Tequila
A bartender at Encinitas restaurant Death by Tequila pours a drink on Tuesday, July 14, for customers seated outside during the city’s “Shared Streets” pilot program. Photo by Caitlin Steinberg
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Encinitas gives restaurants boost; salons languish under lockdown

ENCINITAS — In an effort to alleviate economic hardships facing local restaurant owners, the Encinitas City Council unanimously voted to expand the permitted sale of alcohol to the public right-of-way during its July 10 meeting.

The decision was made in an effort to support establishments struggling with the state’s recent restrictions on indoor operations.

The expansion of alcohol sales arrived in time for the second weekend of Encinitas’ “Shared Streets” pilot program, paving the way for a successful weekend for those restaurants involved.

In addition to discussing regulations prohibiting the service of alcohol, the city council also established the ability for businesses outside of the “Shared Streets” program to apply for permits to expand their own establishments into parking lots, sidewalks and streets.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear, as well as other councilmembers, agreed that a fast and streamlined permit process to assist business owners is necessary.

“We need to get this information out there and make this possible for businesses on the brink,” Blakespear said.

Deputy Mayor Kellie Shay Hinze expressed the need for the city to assist business owners in creating a plan that allows for increased capacity of customers, helps keep income flowing, and meets all public safety needs as well as ADA requirements.

Noni Salon
Tawnya Proctor, owner of Noni Salon, styles one of her last clients on July 14 before shutting the salon’s doors following the state’s latest health order. Photo by Caitlin Steinberg

Councilmembers Joe Mosca, Tony Kranz, and Jody Hubbard agreed the City of Encinitas should do whatever is necessary to make the permitting process easy, accessible and fast to save local businesses from closing their doors during the state’s second round of restrictions.

Blakespear also raised the issue of helping businesses not located on the 101, such as those on Camino Real as well as the need for a fast response from the city manager’s office in lieu of the city council’s month-long recess.

“I just want to make sure that we’re really positioning ourselves to be the most responsive,” Blakespear said.

Acting City Manager Jennifer Campbell assured the council that city employees will provide individual businesses with applications for street-side expansion to expedite the process before businesses are forced to shut their doors.

Restaurants 

Nastassia, general manager of Encinitas restaurant Death by Tequila, was grateful for the council’s recent decision.

“We’ve been able to take advantage of our space outside on the street and sell alcohol,” Nastassia. “The shared streets program and now this have been immensely helpful and is really exciting for us. We don’t have a patio so to be able to have tables outside is huge.”

All things considered, Nastassia reported Death by Tequila had a busy weekend. With a DJ, reservations and a large number of walk-ins, the restaurant seemed optimistic about the upcoming weeks.

Death by Tequila customers Jim Labelle and Jaye Connolly-Labelle agreed, the “shared streets” program is instrumental in keeping restaurants afloat.

“I wish they would shut the whole street down for walking,” Jaye Connolly-Labelle said. “We’ve been missing this. We eat at Maurizio’s Italian and Plum Encinitas all the time.”

Jim Labelle agreed.

“I was really proud of Encinitas,” Labelle said. “They’re actually ahead of things with this and it’s a great program.”

However, while some restaurants on Coast Highway 101 saw an increase in customers, not all businesses are celebrating.

Salon Problems

For every one step forward, some struggling business owners seem to take two steps back.

Following Gov. Newsom’s most recent health order on Monday, July 13 prohibiting specific industries from conducting indoor services, many local establishments continue to face uncertainty and looming closure.

While restaurants and bars may apply for a permit to serve customers in streets-side dining, not every industry is legally able to adapt.

Tawnya Proctor, owner of Leucadia’s Noni Salon, felt frustrated and crushed after being forced to fully close her salon for the second time.

“For some reason, outdoor services aren’t allowed for our industry,” Proctor said. “The state won’t allow it. I don’t think a lot of salons are going to make it this time. Businesses are going to close their doors.”

Proctor said in her industry, hairstylists will likely go “underground,” offering technically illegal at-home services.

“I think a lot of hairdressers are going to build suites inside their homes and for a lack of better words, run it hot, take cash only, and hope their clients don’t turn them in,” Proctor said.

“I want everyone to be healthy and safe. I don’t want to be a part of the problem so I won’t be breaking any laws and risking losing my license or an $18,000 fine,” Proctor said. “It’s just devastating. This feels impossible.”

It is unknown how long California’s second round of COVID-19 closures will last, as the latest health order shutting indoor operations for gyms, places of worship, personal care services, salons and malls has no official end date.