ESCONDIDO — As statewide stay-at-home orders begin to loosen, restaurants and stores in San Diego County are allowing customers inside for the first time in months.
Several dining establishments in Escondido including Filippi’s Pizza Grotto and Swami’s Café are now open for dine-in service. Local favorite Stone Brewing is following close behind with an opening set for June 1.
Stone Brewing’s VP of Hospitality Greg Frazer told The Coast News that the restaurant has had a reopening plan in place for months but didn’t want to rush into opening their doors just yet.
“We didn’t want to open right away because opening into a Memorial Day weekend just didn’t feel like the best decision for us in terms of safety,” Frazer said. “We wanted to make sure we had ample time to get team members back and get them trained on all of the new safety protocols.”
These protocols, announced by the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency, outline specific measures that restaurants must follow in order to operate.
These include requiring restaurant employees and customers to always wear a face-covering (customers can remove face coverings while seated at their table), placing tables 6 feet apart, implementing staggered seating times and installing markings 6 feet apart for areas where customers must stand in line.
Many restaurants like Stone Brewing will serve customers through reservations only. Others, like Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, are accepting customers on a first-come, first-served basis.
Restaurants are also required to limit the number of people at a single table. At Filippi’s, for example, each party can have up to six people.
“We’ve already had a significant amount of people calling and reserving and we haven’t even opened yet,” Frazer said. “However, our priority is to ensure the safety of our team and our customers, so the intelligent way to do it is a slow and deliberate, kind of methodical opening, versus just throwing the doors wide open.”
Restaurants that violate the county’s guidelines may be issued fines or may even be ordered to close. Violations can be reported online at 211sandiego.org/publichealthorder or by calling your local police department’s non-emergency line.
“At Stone, we want to be the leaders, not the followers,” Frazer said. “If you want to get a draft beer, Stone knows what the hell they’re doing, and they’re doing it right. We can’t 100% guarantee safety, but we can do everything in our power to create the safest environment we can.”